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

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

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

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New & Updated

U.S. Plutonium Pit Costs Rise

“In addition, the Government Accountability Office GAO noted in a report published last September that the NNSA has been unable to plan for and complete major construction projects on time and, over the past two decades, Los Alamos has twice had to suspend laboratory-wide operations after the discovery of significant safety issues.”

By: Kingston Reif | armscontrolnow.org

The Energy Department’s cost to build the infrastructure to produce new plutonium cores for U.S. nuclear warheads could be as high as $18 billion, according to a department estimate and yet-to-be-released internal estimates detailed to Arms Control Today by a congressional source.

A technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico manipulates plutonium as part of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program in 2005. Current plans call for expanding the production of plutonium pits at both Los Alamos and at the Savannah RIver Site in South Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Energy Department)

A technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico manipulates plutonium as part of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program in 2005. Current plans call for expanding the production of plutonium pits at both Los Alamos and at the Savannah RIver Site in South Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Energy Department)

The updated price tag is nearly two and half times larger than earlier projections and is likely to raise fresh doubts about the affordability of the department’s aggressive plans to sustain and modernize U.S. nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure.

The updated estimates are not reflected in the budget plan for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that the Trump administration bequeathed to the Biden administration. That means future NNSA weapons program budget requests will require significant increases beyond current plans just to accommodate the growth in the projected cost of pit production.

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Plain Talk: On this Memorial Day, consider getting rid of instruments of death

The sad fact is that if the world’s inclination to settle disputes by going to war — whether it be in Iraq or in Israel and Palestine or any of the other dozens of places that teem with hate — results in the use of a nuclear weapon, we won’t have enough people to decorate all the graves.

BY:

Dale-Harriet Rogovich, with husband Paul, places a rose on the grave of an unknown Union soldier after a Memorial Day ceremony at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison last year.
AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Today’s the day we pause to remember the tens of thousands of men and women who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.

When I was a kid this day was known as “Decoration Day.” I remember my grandparents taking us kids to the old cemetery in New Glarus to place flowers and flags, decorations if you please, on the graves of their own departed family members. Two of them had served in the Civil War.

Other folks placed memorials on the gravestones of relatives who had served in World War I, and still others paid their respects to those who gave their lives in the most recent world conflict at the time, World War II.

Today thousands of Americans will also be remembering loved ones killed in Vietnam, then Iraq and Afghanistan and countless other “skirmishes” where our leaders chose to place our young people in harm’s way. Sometimes the cause was good, more often, not so good.

A couple of weeks ago Buzz Davis, a tireless advocate for peace from Stoughton who’s now retired in Arizona, sent along a column he had written that once again calls on all of us to work harder for peace than we consistently do for war.

A Vietnam veteran himself, Davis was a founder of our local Vietnam Veterans for Peace and is still active in the national organization Vets for Peace that spreads the message that we need to find ways to solve our conflicts other than killing each other and filling cemeteries with gravestones to decorate on what we now call Memorial Day.

“Humans have been alive for 200,000 to 300,000 years,” he points out. “Nearly every major discovery has been used to ‘improve’ our ability to kill others.

“From learning how to sharpen sticks, to metal instruments, to explosive power, boats, airplanes, guns, germs and now nuclear reactions — inquisitive men and women ‘discover’ these and, mostly boys, use them to kill others,” he adds.

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Biden Proposes $1 billion for Nuclear Weapons Work

If Savannah River is delayed in reaching its pit-making goal, Los Alamos lab could be pressured to produce more than 30 pits a year.

“All of this may boomerang on Los Alamos lab, which has been incapable of making a pit for the nuclear weapons stockpile since 2011,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Coghlan was referring to a contract in which the lab made 11 pits in one year for Navy missiles a decade ago. That was the lab’s highest pit production, which soon ceased.

BY: Scott Wyland | © Santa Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory would receive about $1 billion for plutonium operations at the heart of its effort to produce 30 nuclear bomb cores by 2026, according to a partial budget the White House released Friday.

The amount would be more than a 20 percent jump from the $837 million being spent this year on the lab’s plutonium work, a clear signal that President Joe Biden will echo his predecessors’ calls to modernize the nuclear stockpile to deter China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries that have growing first-strike abilities.

The lab’s $837 million plutonium budget this year was 2.7 times larger than the prior year’s allocation of $308 million.

The lab’s plutonium funding was part of the draft budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency in charge of the country’s nuclear weapons program.

The budget also requests $603 million — a 37 percent increase — to move the Savannah River Site in South Carolina toward producing 50 pits a year.

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Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities Board Unanimously Passes Resolution To Dissolve

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted city officials opposing the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities!

BY MAIRE O’NEILL maire@losalamosreporter.comlosalamosreporter.com  

Members of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board voted Friday afternoon to approve a resolution authorizing the direction of the winding down of the RCLC at the point of its termination. The resolution also directs legal counsel Nancy Long, treasurer Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz and Los Alamos County as the fiscal agent to take all actions necessary and warranted to see that the termination and all matters that need to be attended to upon that termination, are taken care of in an orderly way and ratifies actions that have been taken to this point to accomplish that.

Long said the resolution is the beginning of the process and that the resolution expresses the will of the board that the RCLC be wound down and terminated officially with the actions that are necessary to accomplish that.

“We foresee that there will be matters relating to payment of invoices and completing the audit for the fiscal year and we’re hoping to accomplish all those in short order if the board decides this is the direction it wants to take with the organization,” she said.

Ironically, the motion to proceed with the resolution for the disbandment and dissolution of the Coalition was made by Rio Arriba County Commissioner Christine Bustos who later said it was her first and last meeting. Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia seconded the motion. Garcia had abstained during voting with his own government in decisions regarding the Coalition.

Only five member entities were represented at the meeting and all five voted in favor of the resolution. Absent were Santa Fe County, Taos County, Jemez Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.

Garcia thanked the community members for their constant engagement in the RCLC process.

“I think its critical that in the RCLC or any other entity community engagement is critical and I believe that as we move forward through this process we still need to continue to keep our community members engaged and make sure we are working towards our best interests,” he said.

Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez said he learned a lot in terms of what Espanola needs to do in terms of advocacy and what need to be done to champion issues improve the lives of constituents.

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NM Archbishop Can’t Stay Silent on LANL’s Arms Work

“I believe strongly that Pope Francis is right. For peace to flourish, we have to lay down weapons,” [Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester] said, referring to Pope Francis’ statement that even the possession of atomic weapons of war was immoral.

“And any continuing development of nuclear weapons, and refining them, is going in the wrong direction.”

BY: T.S. Last / Journal North
Published: Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester praises much of the work being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab’s expertise greatly contributes to developments in bioscience, computer science, engineering, medicine and modeling that helped the nation navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it also builds bombs – the kind capable of killing massive numbers of people. And that’s not an easy thing for him – and some Catholics working for the lab – to reconcile.

Wester says that as the archdiocese within which the lab operates, the Santa Fe Archdiocese has a “moral responsibility” to facilitate discussion about the lab’s national security mission, most of which is dedicated to weapons production.

“I believe strongly that Pope Francis is right. For peace to flourish, we have to lay down weapons,” he said, referring to Pope Francis’ statement that even the possession of atomic weapons of war was immoral. “And any continuing development of nuclear weapons, and refining them, is going in the wrong direction.”

Wester’s remarks come just as Los Alamos National Laboratory is expanding its national security mission through production of plutonium pits, the cores of nuclear warheads that detonate the bombs. As a direct result of the project, the lab has begun expanding into Santa Fe, the city named for St. Francis of Assisi.

The pope’s 2019 statement was the harshest condemnation of weapons of mass destruction to date from the church. He could have been speaking about LANL and its new mission to manufacture plutonium pits when he said, “In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered, and the fortunes made in the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven.”

Meet the Senate nuke caucus, busting the budget and making the world less safe

These lawmakers represent states with a direct interest in pouring billions into modernizing and building new weapons.

By:  and  | responsiblestatecraft.org

Democrats might control the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government right now, but a small Republican-dominated Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition exercises outsized influence in a frightening campaign for nuclear rearmament.

The coalition, comprising six senators from states that house, develop, or test underground land-based nuclear weapons, is pushing a wasteful and dangerous $1.7 trillion, decades-long plan to produce new nuclear weapons, some with warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

While the 1980s witnessed the nuclear freeze and a mass movement to demand nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the 1990s gave birth to the missile caucus, the Congressional engine careening the U.S. into a renewed nuclear arms race.

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Santa Fe to exit Regional Coalition of LANL Communities

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted city officials in support of overturning the RCLC for good!

By: Sean P. Thomas sthomas@sfnewmexican.comSanta Fe New Mexican  

The Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday to pull the city from the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, a consortium of local and tribal governments with economic ties to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Santa Fe’s resolution requests that the coalition return dues paid by the city and instructs city officials to begin exploring other ways to lobby the laboratory for economic opportunities and environmental cleanup.

The coalition’s board voted Friday to begin winding down the entity and close out debts, before paying back members their 2021 dues.

“I think it’s important to state while this process is going on that we approved this resolution withdrawing the city of Santa Fe from the RCLC,” said Councilor Renee Villarreal.

The coalition was formed in 2011 to advocate for sitewide cleanup and economic opportunities at the laboratory, but critics have said the coalition no longer achieves its original purpose.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S FY 2022  NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND CLEANUP BUDGET REQUEST

For use with DOE’s scheduled budget release on Friday May 28, 2021
For more information, key contacts are listed below.

The White House is releasing its detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget on Friday, May 28. A so-called “skinny budget” was released on April 9 that increased Department of Energy (DOE) funding to $46.1 billion, which reportedly includes major new investments in clean energy and climate change abatement. That said, historically roughly 60% of DOE’s funding has been earmarked for nuclear weapons production and cleanup of Cold War wastes and contamination. The pending budget release will finally provide details on those programs.

Because the budget release is so late Congress has already announced that it can’t consider the annual Defense Authorization Act until September. Related appropriations bills will no doubt be delayed too. This means that the government will probably have to run on a Continuing Resolution(s) for much of FY 2022 (which begins October 1, 2021).

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability strongly opposed the massive 25% FY 2021 increase that the Trump Administration gave to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) nuclear weapons programs and proposed cuts to Department of Energy cleanup. In addition, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 28 consecutive years. Related, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just released a report that projects a 28% increase in costs for so-called “modernization” of U.S. nuclear forces that between the Defense Department and DOE is expected to cost around $1.7 trillion over 30 years.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a 34-year-old network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear weapons sites, will be analyzing the following critical issues. For details, contact the ANA leaders listed at the end of this Advisory.

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Virtual Advocacy for “Safety, Security, and Savings” at ANA DC Days:

May 26, 2021

Nuclear Watch New Mexico virtually visited Washington, DC this month to participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s “DC Days,” an annual event where organizations from across the nation, whose members are directly affected by nuclear weapons production and the incidental health and environmental consequences, make their voice heard to federal policy makers.

Nuclear Watch NM was focused on opposing new plutonium pit production at Savannah River Site and Los Alamos, pushing for safe and secure toxic cleanup and prioritizing public health while saving billions by terminating ill-conceived new nuclear weapons programs. View more information on these issues in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s new report, “Safety, Security, and Savings,” which describes in detail the foundation of our 2021 advocacy. The report includes a series of fact sheets and recommendations covering new warheads, bomb plants, nuclear waste, cleanup, and more.

Surprise! Upgrading America’s Nuclear Arsenal Will Be Stupefyingly Expensive

The cost jumped $140 billion in just 2 years. Here’s why.

BY: | popularmechanics.com

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now says the cost of updating the U.S.’s nuclear weapons is $140 billion more than it estimated just 2 years ago.
  • The increase is largely due to inflation and the inclusion of new, expensive projects the CBO didn’t cover 2 years ago.
  • The new estimate comes as a proposal in Congress seeks to trim the nuclear budget.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate of nuclear weapon expenditures over the next decade has jumped a staggering $140 billion in just 2 years.

The estimate, which the agency provided to Congress to give an idea of how much it will take to build new missiles, ships, and planes, as well as revamp America’s vast nuclear infrastructure, comes as key members of the legislature are pushing to cut nuclear weapons spending over the next 10 years.

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Estimated Cost of US Nuclear Modernization Jumps 28 Percent

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate puts the price tag at $634 billion as some lawmakers try to bring it back down.

BY PATRICK TUCKER | defenseone.com May 24, 2021

The estimated cost of replacing America’s nuclear bombers, missile submarines, and ICBMs just jumped again—from $315 billion in 2015 to $494 billion in 2019 and now to $634 billion, a 28 percent increase, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday.

The report identifies a $140 billion increase in the cost of nuclear delivery systems and weapons, such as ICBMs, as the largest contributor to the jump. “Projected costs for command, control, communications, and early-warning systems have also increased substantially,” it says, adding that if full costs of B-52 and B-21 bombers were included, “the total costs of nuclear forces, with cost growth, would be $711 billion.”

It’s the second time CBO has raised their projections for the costs of modernizing U.S. nuclear forces.

Some lawmakers have balked at what they perceive as the steep price tag for modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has called for a debate specifically on the high cost of replacing the intercontinental leg of the triad. On Monday, he unveiled a new bill, dubbed the SANE act, to cut $73 billion from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget.

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Department of Energy seeks to modify N.M. plant’s nuclear waste permit

Dragging out WIPP’s operations decades past the original 20-year agreement violates the social contract made with New Mexicans, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

WIPP is being equipped to take the waste that will be generated from production of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads, Kovac said.

“It [WIPP] was never really suppose to do that,” Kovac said.

More info about the hearing and how to make comments are here: stopforeverwipp.org/home

By: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com | Santa Fe New Mexican May 17, 2021

Federal officials say a new air shaft is needed at the nuclear waste disposal site in Southern New Mexico to keep workers safe and run more efficiently.

But antinuclear watchdogs contend the real motive behind adding a shaft to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is to enable the underground site to expand and operate indefinitely.

The U.S. Department of Energy seeks to modify WIPP’s hazardous waste permit so it can build a fifth shaft the agency says is needed to boost ventilation, which was partially blocked in 2014 to contain fallout from a ruptured waste container that closed the facility for three years.

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Watch this video from the Stop Forever WIPP coalition: “When is a shaft more than a shaft?” dispelling the idea that an expansion of WIPP will mostly impact the South Eastern part of New Mexico; The new waste targeted for WIPP would be re-processed at Los Alamos. It also dispels the idea that targeting NM for waste disposal has nothing to do with our minority majority population.

Action Alerts

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Environment Department files complaint against U.S. Department of Energy to speed clean-up of legacy waste, terminate 2016 Consent Order at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Non-compliance with 2016 Consent Order causing unacceptable delays, threatening public health and the environment

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

Nuclear Media

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More Nuclear News

Cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile to rise by more than 40%

Boris Johnson announcement on Tuesday will end 30 years of gradual disarmament

By: Tricia Ennis | 13abc.com

The increased limit, from 180 to 260 warheads, is contained in a leaked copy of the integrated review of defence and foreign policy. Photograph: Tam McDonald/MoD/EPA

Britain is lifting the cap on the number of Trident nuclear warheads it can stockpile by more than 40%, Boris Johnson will announce on Tuesday, ending 30 years of gradual disarmament since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The increased limit, from 180 to 260 warheads, is contained in a leaked copy of the integrated review of defence and foreign policy, seen by the Guardian. It paves the way for a controversial £10bn rearmament in response to perceived threats from Russia and China.

The review also warns of the “realistic possibility” that a terrorist group will “launch a successful CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear] attack by 2030”, although there is little extra detail to back up this assessment.

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Ongoing ‘review’ forces Pentagon official to pull out of SC pit production briefing

A Pentagon official backed out of a plutonium pit production briefing in Columbia this week because the Biden administration is “engaged in a full review of the program,” according to Rick Lee, the chairman of the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council.

By:  | postandcourier.com

Rick Lee, the chairman of the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council, pictured here during a meeting in 2018. The council met in Columbia on Monday. (Colin Demarest/Staff)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters Drew Walter was scheduled to make a presentation about pit production – the crafting of nuclear weapon cores, potentially in both South Carolina and New Mexico – “and why the Department of Defense feels it’s imperative that we get underway with the program,” Lee said.
But until the new administration settles on “what they want to do moving forward,” the chairman continued, Walter “would not be available for that kind of gathering.”
Exactly what the purported review covers or drills down on is unclear. A big question, Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements suggested Wednesday, “is if there is any kind of formal review of pits and overall nuclear weapons modernization at DOE and DOD.”

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Report: Cancer death rates rising near Fermi nuclear plant

A new study is looking to test baby teeth from children living near the plant.

By: Tricia Ennis | 13abc.com

(Photo: DTE Energy) (WNDU)

NEWPORT, Mich. (WTVG) – A new report from the Radiation and Public Health Project claims that the cancer death rate in Monroe County, Michigan is on the rise and it’s tying that growth to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in Newport.

According to the report, which uses public health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of death due to cancer in Monroe County was roughly equal to that of the rest of the United States. Since 1988, that rate has risen steadily, reaching 11.3% higher than the national average in the most recent 10 years (2009-2018). From 2014-2018, that rate was 14.3% higher than the national average, amounting to 1,794 deaths. In the period between 1969 and 1978, outlines the report, that rate was 4.5% lower than the national average.

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By: William D. Hartung | Arms & Security Program

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) have been called “some of the most dangerous weapons in the world” by former Defense Secretary William Perry, because under current policies the president would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them in a crisis, increasing the risks of an accidental nuclear war.1 Despite this reality, proposals for reducing this risk have routinely been blocked, in significant part due to a group of Senators from states that host ICBM bases or ICBM maintenance and development activities, often referred to as the ICBM Coalition. The Coalition includes Senators from Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The polices promoted by the ICBM Coalition and its allies do not have wide public support. A recent poll conducted by ReThink Media and the Federation of American Scientists found that 60% of Americans supported either forgoing the development of a new ICBM, eliminating ICBMs altogether, or eliminating all nuclear weapons, an indication that a change in current ICBM policies would have significant public support.

REPORT SUMMARY

FULL REPORT

Putin, Biden Should Aim For More Arms Curbs: Gorbachev

Gorbachev told the Interfax news agency that the two leaders  – who spoke by phone after Biden’s inauguration last month – should meet and discuss further arms curbs.

By: AFP NEWS – Agence France Presse /

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin and new US President Joe Biden to push for deeper restrictions on nuclear weapons.

Tensions soared between the two nations under previous US leader Donald Trump, fuelled by allegations of sweeping cyberattacks and a litany of other disagreements.

But soon after Biden took office, the two powers extended a pact that limits each side to 1,550 nuclear warheads, which Putin hailed as a positive development.
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The Future of War in Biden’s America

Danny Sjursen offers a Bidenesque tour of U.S. militarism.

By: Danny Sjursen Tom’s Dispatch | consortiumnews.com

2009: Vice President Joe Biden with U.S. sailors stationed in San Diego who were preparing to deploy to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy, Amanda L. Ray)

Hard as it is to believe in this time of record pandemic deaths, insurrection, and an unprecedented encore impeachment, Joe Biden is now officially at the helm of the U.S. war machine.  He is, in other words, the fourth president to oversee America’s unending and unsuccessful post-9/11 military campaigns.

In terms of active U.S. combat, that’s only happened once before, in the Philippines, America’s second-longest (if often forgotten) overseas combat campaign.

Yet that conflict was limited to a single Pacific archipelago. Biden inherits a global war — and burgeoning new Cold War — spanning four continents and a military mired in active operations in dozens of countries, combat in some 14 of them, and bombing in at least seven. 

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Bombs Away: Weapon Systems That Biden Administration Could Curtail or Retire

Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect

By: Michael R. Gordon | Wall Street Journal

President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will reduce “excessive” expenditures on nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the Pentagon’s plans for updating and sustaining the nuclear triad of air, sea and land-borne weapons would cost $1.2 trillion, and some lawmakers say the eventual cost might exceed $1.5 trillion. Here are some of the weapons that might be reviewed.
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DOE Publishes Reactor Impact Statement

“Given that no clear mission need has been established for the VTR and with an estimated price tag of $3 billion to $6 billion, with completion ranging from 2026 to 2030, it is doubtful if the project will go forward..Just as for other costly, complex DOE projects, the price tag is certain to grow and the schedule certain to slip if the project is pursued.” — Savannah River Site Watch

By: NATHAN BROWN nbrown@postregister.com

Idaho National Laboratory photo

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the draft environmental impact statement for a test reactor it would like to build at Idaho National Laboratory.

The statement on the Versatile Test Reactor was released Monday and is available online through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s website, energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy. Public comment will conclude 45 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency publishes notice in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Dec. 31. DOE will then hold two virtual public hearings, dates to be announced.
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DOE Awards Savannah River National Laboratory Management and Operating Contract

Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) awarded the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Management and Operating (M&O) contract to Battelle Savannah River Alliance, LLC (BSRA) of Columbus, OH.

The Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract will include a 5-year base period (inclusive of 120 day transition period) and potential award terms of up to 5 more years, for a total period of up to 10 years. The anticipated contract value is approximately $3.8 billion over the potential 10-year period of performance.

The procurement was competed as a full-and-open competition, and EM received three proposals. The Department determined the BSRA proposal provided the best value to the Government considering Laboratory Vision, Key Personnel, Management and Operations, Past Performance, Transition Plan, and Cost and Fee.

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Critics say Turkey’s unfinished nuclear plant already redundant

Turkey’s power plant building spree has resulted in an enormous idle capacity but the construction of new plants continues at the expense of taxpayers despite the country’s bruising economic woes.

BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation 

A view of the construction site of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Akkuyu, is pictured during the opening ceremony in the Mediterranean Mersin region on April 3, 2018. Photo by IBRAHIM MESE/AFP via Getty Images.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power for 18 years, is under increasing fire for poorly planned, prodigal investments whose long-term financial fallout is coming into sharper relief as the country grapples with severe economic woes. Standing out among the most dubious investments is a series of power plants, including a nuclear energy plant still under construction, that have created an idle capacity threatening to haunt public finances for years.

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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

Modernization: The Mainspring of NNSA FY 2022 Budget Request in the Form of Ballooning SRS Pit Costs

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s detailed fiscal year 2022 budget request was (partially) unveiled last week on Friday, May 28, in the evening before a long holiday weekend. The Biden Administration’s total NNSA FY22 budget request is just under $20 billion, requesting of $15.48 billion for NNSA “Total Weapons Activities” and following suit with Trump’s excessive nuclear weapons budget of $15.35 billion that Congress appropriated for FY 2021.

Of particular note in the budget request is that it will cost more than double what the National Nuclear Security Administration had previously estimated for the total of DOE’s Plutonium Bomb Plant construction at Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The facility would be a converted production plant for the fabrication of plutonium “pits,” the triggers for nuclear warheads. The cost for the plant has ballooned from the previous estimate of $4.6 billion to a now staggering $11.1 billion. What’s more, the schedule for the facility’s initial operation has slipped up to five years. The plans for the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant have already run far over budget and fallen behind schedule, and “these troubling and potentially debilitating developments foreshadow problems to come to the challenging pit-production project,” according to the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch.

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Biden Continues Trump’s Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget

Will That Change in Future Years?

Santa Fe, NM – In a classic move that discouraged media coverage, the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released its long delayed FY 2022 Congressional Budget Request around 7:30 pm EST Friday, May 28, at the very beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico strongly opposed the 25% FY 2021 increase that the Trump Administration bequeathed to NNSA’s nuclear weapons programs. That massive increase was originally sold in testimony to Congress as essential to maintaining the nuclear deterrence but later revealed as necessary to cover NNSA cost overruns and blown schedules.[i] Nevertheless, the Biden Administration has institutionalized Trump’s excessive nuclear weapons budget with a FY 2022 request of $15.48 billion for NNSA “Total Weapons Activities,” a slight increase above the $15.35 billion that Congress appropriated for FY 2021. The key drivers are new and upgraded nuclear warheads and new production facilities to manufacture them, particularly for plutonium “pit” bomb cores.

As background, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 28 consecutive years.[ii] Related, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just released a report that projects a 28% increase in costs over the next decade for so-called “modernization” of U.S. nuclear forces,[iii] which between the Defense Department and DOE is expected to cost approximately $1.7 trillion over 30 years. To add to this, the Government Accountability Office has recently issued a report that points to probable technical and schedule problems with “modernization” that will likely cost yet more and could lead to the expansion of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, providing more fuel for the growing nuclear arms race.

U.S. Plutonium Pit Costs Rise

“In addition, the Government Accountability Office GAO noted in a report published last September that the NNSA has been unable to plan for and complete major construction projects on time and, over the past two decades, Los Alamos has twice had to suspend laboratory-wide operations after the discovery of significant safety issues.”

By: Kingston Reif | armscontrolnow.org

The Energy Department’s cost to build the infrastructure to produce new plutonium cores for U.S. nuclear warheads could be as high as $18 billion, according to a department estimate and yet-to-be-released internal estimates detailed to Arms Control Today by a congressional source.

A technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico manipulates plutonium as part of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program in 2005. Current plans call for expanding the production of plutonium pits at both Los Alamos and at the Savannah RIver Site in South Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Energy Department)

A technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico manipulates plutonium as part of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program in 2005. Current plans call for expanding the production of plutonium pits at both Los Alamos and at the Savannah RIver Site in South Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Energy Department)

The updated price tag is nearly two and half times larger than earlier projections and is likely to raise fresh doubts about the affordability of the department’s aggressive plans to sustain and modernize U.S. nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure.

The updated estimates are not reflected in the budget plan for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that the Trump administration bequeathed to the Biden administration. That means future NNSA weapons program budget requests will require significant increases beyond current plans just to accommodate the growth in the projected cost of pit production.

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Plain Talk: On this Memorial Day, consider getting rid of instruments of death

The sad fact is that if the world’s inclination to settle disputes by going to war — whether it be in Iraq or in Israel and Palestine or any of the other dozens of places that teem with hate — results in the use of a nuclear weapon, we won’t have enough people to decorate all the graves.

BY:

Dale-Harriet Rogovich, with husband Paul, places a rose on the grave of an unknown Union soldier after a Memorial Day ceremony at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison last year.
AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

Today’s the day we pause to remember the tens of thousands of men and women who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.

When I was a kid this day was known as “Decoration Day.” I remember my grandparents taking us kids to the old cemetery in New Glarus to place flowers and flags, decorations if you please, on the graves of their own departed family members. Two of them had served in the Civil War.

Other folks placed memorials on the gravestones of relatives who had served in World War I, and still others paid their respects to those who gave their lives in the most recent world conflict at the time, World War II.

Today thousands of Americans will also be remembering loved ones killed in Vietnam, then Iraq and Afghanistan and countless other “skirmishes” where our leaders chose to place our young people in harm’s way. Sometimes the cause was good, more often, not so good.

A couple of weeks ago Buzz Davis, a tireless advocate for peace from Stoughton who’s now retired in Arizona, sent along a column he had written that once again calls on all of us to work harder for peace than we consistently do for war.

A Vietnam veteran himself, Davis was a founder of our local Vietnam Veterans for Peace and is still active in the national organization Vets for Peace that spreads the message that we need to find ways to solve our conflicts other than killing each other and filling cemeteries with gravestones to decorate on what we now call Memorial Day.

“Humans have been alive for 200,000 to 300,000 years,” he points out. “Nearly every major discovery has been used to ‘improve’ our ability to kill others.

“From learning how to sharpen sticks, to metal instruments, to explosive power, boats, airplanes, guns, germs and now nuclear reactions — inquisitive men and women ‘discover’ these and, mostly boys, use them to kill others,” he adds.

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Biden Proposes $1 billion for Nuclear Weapons Work

If Savannah River is delayed in reaching its pit-making goal, Los Alamos lab could be pressured to produce more than 30 pits a year.

“All of this may boomerang on Los Alamos lab, which has been incapable of making a pit for the nuclear weapons stockpile since 2011,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Coghlan was referring to a contract in which the lab made 11 pits in one year for Navy missiles a decade ago. That was the lab’s highest pit production, which soon ceased.

BY: Scott Wyland | © Santa Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory would receive about $1 billion for plutonium operations at the heart of its effort to produce 30 nuclear bomb cores by 2026, according to a partial budget the White House released Friday.

The amount would be more than a 20 percent jump from the $837 million being spent this year on the lab’s plutonium work, a clear signal that President Joe Biden will echo his predecessors’ calls to modernize the nuclear stockpile to deter China, Russia, Iran and other adversaries that have growing first-strike abilities.

The lab’s $837 million plutonium budget this year was 2.7 times larger than the prior year’s allocation of $308 million.

The lab’s plutonium funding was part of the draft budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency in charge of the country’s nuclear weapons program.

The budget also requests $603 million — a 37 percent increase — to move the Savannah River Site in South Carolina toward producing 50 pits a year.

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Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities Board Unanimously Passes Resolution To Dissolve

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted city officials opposing the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities!

BY MAIRE O’NEILL maire@losalamosreporter.comlosalamosreporter.com  

Members of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board voted Friday afternoon to approve a resolution authorizing the direction of the winding down of the RCLC at the point of its termination. The resolution also directs legal counsel Nancy Long, treasurer Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz and Los Alamos County as the fiscal agent to take all actions necessary and warranted to see that the termination and all matters that need to be attended to upon that termination, are taken care of in an orderly way and ratifies actions that have been taken to this point to accomplish that.

Long said the resolution is the beginning of the process and that the resolution expresses the will of the board that the RCLC be wound down and terminated officially with the actions that are necessary to accomplish that.

“We foresee that there will be matters relating to payment of invoices and completing the audit for the fiscal year and we’re hoping to accomplish all those in short order if the board decides this is the direction it wants to take with the organization,” she said.

Ironically, the motion to proceed with the resolution for the disbandment and dissolution of the Coalition was made by Rio Arriba County Commissioner Christine Bustos who later said it was her first and last meeting. Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia seconded the motion. Garcia had abstained during voting with his own government in decisions regarding the Coalition.

Only five member entities were represented at the meeting and all five voted in favor of the resolution. Absent were Santa Fe County, Taos County, Jemez Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.

Garcia thanked the community members for their constant engagement in the RCLC process.

“I think its critical that in the RCLC or any other entity community engagement is critical and I believe that as we move forward through this process we still need to continue to keep our community members engaged and make sure we are working towards our best interests,” he said.

Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez said he learned a lot in terms of what Espanola needs to do in terms of advocacy and what need to be done to champion issues improve the lives of constituents.

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NM Archbishop Can’t Stay Silent on LANL’s Arms Work

“I believe strongly that Pope Francis is right. For peace to flourish, we have to lay down weapons,” [Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester] said, referring to Pope Francis’ statement that even the possession of atomic weapons of war was immoral.

“And any continuing development of nuclear weapons, and refining them, is going in the wrong direction.”

BY: T.S. Last / Journal North
Published: Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester praises much of the work being done at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab’s expertise greatly contributes to developments in bioscience, computer science, engineering, medicine and modeling that helped the nation navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it also builds bombs – the kind capable of killing massive numbers of people. And that’s not an easy thing for him – and some Catholics working for the lab – to reconcile.

Wester says that as the archdiocese within which the lab operates, the Santa Fe Archdiocese has a “moral responsibility” to facilitate discussion about the lab’s national security mission, most of which is dedicated to weapons production.

“I believe strongly that Pope Francis is right. For peace to flourish, we have to lay down weapons,” he said, referring to Pope Francis’ statement that even the possession of atomic weapons of war was immoral. “And any continuing development of nuclear weapons, and refining them, is going in the wrong direction.”

Wester’s remarks come just as Los Alamos National Laboratory is expanding its national security mission through production of plutonium pits, the cores of nuclear warheads that detonate the bombs. As a direct result of the project, the lab has begun expanding into Santa Fe, the city named for St. Francis of Assisi.

The pope’s 2019 statement was the harshest condemnation of weapons of mass destruction to date from the church. He could have been speaking about LANL and its new mission to manufacture plutonium pits when he said, “In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered, and the fortunes made in the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven.”

Meet the Senate nuke caucus, busting the budget and making the world less safe

These lawmakers represent states with a direct interest in pouring billions into modernizing and building new weapons.

By:  and  | responsiblestatecraft.org

Democrats might control the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government right now, but a small Republican-dominated Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition exercises outsized influence in a frightening campaign for nuclear rearmament.

The coalition, comprising six senators from states that house, develop, or test underground land-based nuclear weapons, is pushing a wasteful and dangerous $1.7 trillion, decades-long plan to produce new nuclear weapons, some with warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

While the 1980s witnessed the nuclear freeze and a mass movement to demand nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the 1990s gave birth to the missile caucus, the Congressional engine careening the U.S. into a renewed nuclear arms race.

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Santa Fe to exit Regional Coalition of LANL Communities

THANK YOU to everyone who contacted city officials in support of overturning the RCLC for good!

By: Sean P. Thomas sthomas@sfnewmexican.comSanta Fe New Mexican  

The Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday to pull the city from the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, a consortium of local and tribal governments with economic ties to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Santa Fe’s resolution requests that the coalition return dues paid by the city and instructs city officials to begin exploring other ways to lobby the laboratory for economic opportunities and environmental cleanup.

The coalition’s board voted Friday to begin winding down the entity and close out debts, before paying back members their 2021 dues.

“I think it’s important to state while this process is going on that we approved this resolution withdrawing the city of Santa Fe from the RCLC,” said Councilor Renee Villarreal.

The coalition was formed in 2011 to advocate for sitewide cleanup and economic opportunities at the laboratory, but critics have said the coalition no longer achieves its original purpose.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S FY 2022  NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND CLEANUP BUDGET REQUEST

For use with DOE’s scheduled budget release on Friday May 28, 2021
For more information, key contacts are listed below.

The White House is releasing its detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget on Friday, May 28. A so-called “skinny budget” was released on April 9 that increased Department of Energy (DOE) funding to $46.1 billion, which reportedly includes major new investments in clean energy and climate change abatement. That said, historically roughly 60% of DOE’s funding has been earmarked for nuclear weapons production and cleanup of Cold War wastes and contamination. The pending budget release will finally provide details on those programs.

Because the budget release is so late Congress has already announced that it can’t consider the annual Defense Authorization Act until September. Related appropriations bills will no doubt be delayed too. This means that the government will probably have to run on a Continuing Resolution(s) for much of FY 2022 (which begins October 1, 2021).

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability strongly opposed the massive 25% FY 2021 increase that the Trump Administration gave to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) nuclear weapons programs and proposed cuts to Department of Energy cleanup. In addition, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 28 consecutive years. Related, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just released a report that projects a 28% increase in costs for so-called “modernization” of U.S. nuclear forces that between the Defense Department and DOE is expected to cost around $1.7 trillion over 30 years.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a 34-year-old network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear weapons sites, will be analyzing the following critical issues. For details, contact the ANA leaders listed at the end of this Advisory.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

Browse the WatchBlog

Must Reads

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Ron Rosenbaum, in his fascinating and highly readable “How The End Begins” (2011) notes that when Kissinger told Nixon that Ellsberg was “the most dangerous man in America” he wasn’t referring to the Pentagon Papers but to what Ellsberg knew about top secret nuclear war plans from his work at RAND. Ellsberg had also made off with thousands of nuclear war-fighting strategy documents in addition to the Pentagon Papers, but decided to release the latter first. As it turned out much of the nuclear papers were lost during the turmoil following the Pentagon Papers release. This book, long overdue, is about what he learned then.

Ellsberg recalls being tasked to review the strategic war-fighting plans in effect under Eisenhower, and discovering that they called for “hitting every city, actually every town, above 25,000 population” in Russia and China and to some extent East Europe. Pressed for an estimate of death toll, the pentagon came back with 600 million dead. And that was not counting US and West European death tolls. “I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”

Referring to US and Russian ICBM forces still to this day on alert: “Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine.”

Democracy Now interview with transcript

Harper’s Magazine excerpt, Dec 6, 2017

Dave Davies excellent NPR interview

at Amazon

The U.S. Sprayed, Injected and Fed Radiation to Countless Innocents in Secret Cold War-Era Testing

Behind the Fog by Martino-TaylorMilitary scientists exposed American civilians to radiation without their knowledge or consent. “Behind the Fog” documents a dark chapter of “large-scale organizational deviance”…

From the publisher:

“Martino-Taylor documents the coordinated efforts of a small group of military scientists who advanced a four-pronged secret program of human-subject radiation studies that targeted unsuspecting Americans for Cold War military purposes… Agency and academic partnerships advanced, supported, and concealed the studies from the public at large who ultimately served as unwitting test subjects.

‘They targeted the most vulnerable in society… They targeted children. They targeted pregnant women in Nashville. People who were ill in hospitals. They targeted wards of the state. And they targeted minority populations.’

Martino-Taylor’s comprehensive research illuminates a dark chapter of government secrecy, the military-industrial-academic complex, and large-scale organizational deviance in American history. In its critical approach, Behind the Fog effectively examines the mechanisms that allow large-scale elite deviance to take place in modern society.”

(ABC News story / publisher’s book page)

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

Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff“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

Almighty Dan ZakCourage, 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

Quotes

“The point of nonviolence is to build a strong new floor beneath which we can no longer sink; a platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, [and] the works. Give a man a decent place to stand.Joan Baez

“[Nuclear Weapons] aren’t just wildly expensive. They’re dangerous. Because they are designed to fire while enemy missiles are still in the air, former Defense Secretary William Perry warns that they “could trigger an accidental nuclear war.”
Mr. Perry has proposed phasing out America’s land-based nuclear weapons and relying on a safer air- and sea-based deterrent. If Mr. Biden followed Mr. Perry’s advice, he could save more than enough money to prepare vaccines for the 50 to 100 viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic.” – Let’s Cut Our Ridiculous Defense Budget

“President Ronald Reagan believed that nuclear weapons are immoral, and so he sought their complete elimination, and I agreed – and still do with deep conviction. In the end, this is a matter of profound morality.” – George P. Schultz, US Secretary of State 1982-89

“The reality is that United States can deter and, if necessary, respond to nuclear attack without the 400 nuclear warheads atop its 400 ICBMs. Today, the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal is at least one-third larger than necessary to deter a nuclear attack.”

Illustrated by Lawrence Freedman (Author): Nuclear Deterrence: A Ladybird Expert Book (31)

armscontrolnow.org

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