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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley CAREs – VIEW

_____________________________________________

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

EPA: Permit will regulate polluted stormwater in Los Alamos County

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

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

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

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

BY: ROBERT GALLUCCI | nationalinterest.org

Photo: National Interest

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

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

Continue reading

NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

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

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

New & Updated

COMMUNITIES PUSH BACK AGAINST REPORTS OF HUGE NUCLEAR WEAPONS BUDGET INCREASE

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.

Multiple sources indicate the FY2021 budget request from the Trump Administration will seek a dramatic increase in funding for nuclear weapons—an unprecedented leap of 20% over current spending levels, bringing the total for The National Nuclear Security Administration to $20 billion. Reportedly, the increase is earmarked principally for modernization programs for warhead design and plutonium pit manufacturing facilities.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability released a letter to Congressional leadership calling for a hard look at the budget request when it arrives, scheduled for February 10, and encouraging House and Senate members to reject the increase as unjustified and unwise.

Continue reading

Trump will seek 20% budget boost for nukes, says Inhofe

This “boost” will surely be reflected in the FY 2021 budget to be released February 10. The nuclear weapons increase is believed to be for new warheads (so-called Life Extension Programs) and expanded plutonium pit production. To pay for it, nonproliferation, dismantlement and cleanup programs are likely at risk.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress and Cabinet members in the White House on June 20, 2018. At left is Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ― U.S. President Donald Trump has settled an internal battle over whether to seek $20 billion for the federal agency that maintains America’s weapons, or less money, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., confirmed Tuesday.

The president will ask for the $20 billion.

The decision came after the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, agitated internally in favor of boosting the budget for nuclear weapons modernization in fiscal 2021 ― a position later backed by Inhofe and other congressional Republicans.

Continue reading

U.S. Has Deployed New, Small Nukes On Submarine, According To Group

BY: GEOFF BRUMFIEL | npr.org

The U.S. has begun deploying a new type of low-yield nuclear warhead aboard some ballistic missile submarines, according to a report by an independent monitor.

When the USS Tennessee, an Ohio-class submarine, went on patrol in the final weeks of 2019, it carried “one or two” of the new weapons, according to a post by the Federation of American Scientists.

“It is apparently still out there now and expected to come back sometime in February,” says Hans Kristensen, director of the group’s nuclear information project. He believes a second submarine carrying the weapon may also be patrolling in the Pacific.

Kristensen says the assessment is based on conversations with government officials, who have spoken to the group about the weapon’s deployment.

The Pentagon officially declined to comment on the report: “It is U.S. policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location, as such, we cannot confirm or deny this reporting at this time,” it said in a written statement to NPR.

Continue reading

Experts Call for Firm Age Limit on Plutonium Weapons

What’s the lifespan of a nuke’s “pit” anyway?

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

  • Experts are pleading with Congress to get a firm age limit on plutonium cores of U.S. nuclear weapons.
  • A specific plutonium isotope powers nuclear weapons, but others power nuclear plants and space travel.
  • The Trump administration wants to begin replacing cores, but a more scientific time frame could save a lot of “rush” money.

The U.S. has nearly 4,000 stockpiled nuclear weapons, and Scientific American wonders what will happen to all of their aging plutonium cores. Experts have said the plutonium will last at least 100 years, but it’s probably still smart to make backup plans—and the Trump administration is doing just that, with aims to replace all the cores by 2080.

Continue reading

US Deploys New Low-Yield Nuclear Submarine Warhead

The US Navy has now deployed the new W76-2 low-yield Trident submarine warhead.

BY: WILLIAM M. ARKIN & HANS M. KRISTENSEN | fas.org

The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) at sea. The Tennessee is believed to have deployed on an operational patrol in late 2019, the first SSBN to deploy with new low-yield W76-2 warhead. (Picture: U.S. Navy)

The first ballistic missile submarine scheduled to deploy with the new warhead was the USS Tennessee (SSBN-734), which deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia during the final weeks of 2019 for a deterrent patrol in the Atlantic Ocean.

The W76-2 warhead was first announced in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) unveiled in February 2018. There, it was described as a capability to “help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable ‘gap’ in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities,” a reference to Russia. The justification voiced by the administration was that the United States did not have a “prompt” and useable nuclear capability that could counter – and thus deter – Russian use of its own tactical nuclear capabilities.

Continue reading

Iran’s impending exit from the NPT: A new nuclear crisis

“What would an Iranian NPT withdrawal look like? It would spell the end of all IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and the dawn of a new era of complete lack of transparency on Iran’s nuclear activities…Without a doubt, Iran’s NPT exit would represent a severe blow to the global nonproliferation regime, irrespective of Iran’s stated intentions.”

BY: KAVEH L. AFRASIABI & NADER ENTESSAR | thebulletin.org

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in 2019. Zarif recently renewed Iran’s threat of withdrawing from the NPT in the event that the UN Security Council reimposes multilateral sanctions against Iran. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By all accounts, the approaching 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference will have to address new challenges on both the disarmament and nonproliferation fronts. These range from the failure of nuclear weapons states to disarm as the treaty requires to the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the uncertainties surrounding the future of New START after its expiration in early 2021, North Korea’s relentless nuclearization, and Iran’s repeated explicit threats to quit the NPT ever since the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018. Taken as a whole, these developments represent a big leap backward, imperiling international peace and security. Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, the upcoming NPT conference is a unique opportunity to address the root causes of the NPT’s “new crisis” and to map out prudent steps toward crisis prevention, particularly in the volatile Middle East.

Continue reading

Trump’s Latest Attack on the Environment May Be His Most Alarming Yet

“New rules will eliminate consideration of climate change in environmental impact reports; limit the scope of projects that trigger NEPA, allowing companies to conduct their own reviews; implement hard deadlines on environmental reviews and possibly marginalize public input on projects.”

BY: SHARON ZHANG | truthout.org

President Trump speaks during an event to unveil significant changes to the National Environmental Policy Act on January 9, 2020, in Washington, D.C. DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES

Early this month, the Trump administration released planned major changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the oldest environmental law in the U.S. The debate over NEPA is, like most other environmental debates in the U.S., a debate between people representing industry interests and people interested in protecting communities and the environment. And recently, the fossil fuel industry has helped push through another potential win against the law — and this one could have major consequences.

President Donald Trump has shown his hand in this debate many times — he’s continually on the side of corporations, which is unsurprising considering he, himself, is a businessman. Trump has rolled back or begun rolling back 95 environmental regulations as of December. He has been fixated on allowing the building of pipelines. This line of policy has come to a head with his administration’s recent proposal to roll back NEPA, the nation’s oldest environmental law.

Continue reading

The low-yield nuclear warhead: A dangerous weapon based on bad strategic thinking

BY: ANDREW FACINI | thebulletin.org

Workers at the Pantex Plant in Texas handle a W76 nuclear warhead as part of a program to extend its life. Image credit: Pantex Plant via YouTube.

In the unintuitive world of nuclear weapons strategy, it’s often difficult to identify which decisions can serve to decrease the risk of a devastating nuclear conflict and which might instead increase it. Such complexity stems from the very foundation of the field: Nuclear weapons are widely seen as bombs built never to be used. Historically, granular—even seemingly mundane—decisions about force structure, research efforts, or communicated strategy have confounded planners, sometimes causing the opposite of the intended effect.

Such is the risk carried by one strategy change that has earned top billing under the Trump administration: the deployment of a new “low-yield” nuclear weapon on US submarines.

Low-yield, high risk. The Trump administration first announced its plans for a new low-yield nuclear warhead in its February 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a public report meant to communicate and clarify various American nuclear weapons policies. The Nuclear Posture Review presented the lower-strength warhead as necessary for the “preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression.” In other words, the United States was seeking a new, intermediate option for an imagined scenario in which Russia, after starting a conventional war in Europe, might be tempted to use smaller nuclear weapons first in order to win the conflict.

Continue reading

2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement
Washington, D.C. • January 23, 2020

Closer than ever: It is 100 seconds to midnight

Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.

Read the 2020 statement | PRESS RELEASE

In nuclear spending fight, it’s Trump allies vs. White House budget office

BY: AARON MEHTA & JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty runs the agency responsible for America’s nuclear warheads. (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration)

WASHINGTON — A new fight over America’s nuclear budget has erupted from behind the scenes, as key Republicans in Congress are appealing to President Donald Trump for a significant boost to the agency in charge of the nation’s nuclear warheads.

Though there are often disagreements as presidents vet their budgets on Capitol Hill before finalizing them, it’s rare that those fights become public. This time, some of the president’s allies in Congress are battling the White House’s Office of Management and Budget on behalf of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency inside the Department of Energy.

Continue reading

Feds say nuclear weapons work will be open

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRIAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS | abqjournal.com

A review of a proposal to ramp up production of key components for the United States’ nuclear arsenal will be open and transparent, according to members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján said in a joint statement to The Associated Press that they received assurances from federal officials that the review process also will include an opportunity for public comment.

The Democrats were briefed last week by federal officials after the National Nuclear Security Administration announced it did not need to do a more expansive nationwide review of the impacts of building plutonium cores at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

As supporters of bringing more defense-related spending to New Mexico, the lawmakers initially refrained from commenting on whether they would support an expanded review, saying they needed more information. Watchdog groups have argued that federal officials are violating national environmental laws by not doing a more in-depth analysis.

Continue reading

A radioactive legacy haunts this Navajo village, which fears a fractured future

BY: WILL FORD | washingtonpost.com

RED WATER POND ROAD, N.M. — The village of Red Water Pond Road sits in the southeast corner of the Navajo Nation, a tiny speck in a dry valley surrounded by scrub-covered mesas. Many families have lived here for generations. The federal government wants to move them out.

Signs warning of health risks are posted outside the gates of an abandoned uranium mine in the community of Red Water Pond, N.M. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)

In what might seem a cruel echo of history, officials are relocating residents to the city of Gallup, about a half-hour away, and surrounding areas. This echo is nuanced, however. The village sits amid a Superfund site loaded with uranium mine waste. Mitigation has been delayed for decades, along with remedies for hundreds of other abandoned uranium mines across the tribe’s lands that boomed during the Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Critical Events

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

Action Alerts

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

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

COMMUNITIES PUSH BACK AGAINST REPORTS OF HUGE NUCLEAR WEAPONS BUDGET INCREASE

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.

Multiple sources indicate the FY2021 budget request from the Trump Administration will seek a dramatic increase in funding for nuclear weapons—an unprecedented leap of 20% over current spending levels, bringing the total for The National Nuclear Security Administration to $20 billion. Reportedly, the increase is earmarked principally for modernization programs for warhead design and plutonium pit manufacturing facilities.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability released a letter to Congressional leadership calling for a hard look at the budget request when it arrives, scheduled for February 10, and encouraging House and Senate members to reject the increase as unjustified and unwise.

Continue reading

Trump will seek 20% budget boost for nukes, says Inhofe

This “boost” will surely be reflected in the FY 2021 budget to be released February 10. The nuclear weapons increase is believed to be for new warheads (so-called Life Extension Programs) and expanded plutonium pit production. To pay for it, nonproliferation, dismantlement and cleanup programs are likely at risk.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress and Cabinet members in the White House on June 20, 2018. At left is Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ― U.S. President Donald Trump has settled an internal battle over whether to seek $20 billion for the federal agency that maintains America’s weapons, or less money, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., confirmed Tuesday.

The president will ask for the $20 billion.

The decision came after the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, agitated internally in favor of boosting the budget for nuclear weapons modernization in fiscal 2021 ― a position later backed by Inhofe and other congressional Republicans.

Continue reading

U.S. Has Deployed New, Small Nukes On Submarine, According To Group

BY: GEOFF BRUMFIEL | npr.org

The U.S. has begun deploying a new type of low-yield nuclear warhead aboard some ballistic missile submarines, according to a report by an independent monitor.

When the USS Tennessee, an Ohio-class submarine, went on patrol in the final weeks of 2019, it carried “one or two” of the new weapons, according to a post by the Federation of American Scientists.

“It is apparently still out there now and expected to come back sometime in February,” says Hans Kristensen, director of the group’s nuclear information project. He believes a second submarine carrying the weapon may also be patrolling in the Pacific.

Kristensen says the assessment is based on conversations with government officials, who have spoken to the group about the weapon’s deployment.

The Pentagon officially declined to comment on the report: “It is U.S. policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location, as such, we cannot confirm or deny this reporting at this time,” it said in a written statement to NPR.

Continue reading

Experts Call for Firm Age Limit on Plutonium Weapons

What’s the lifespan of a nuke’s “pit” anyway?

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

  • Experts are pleading with Congress to get a firm age limit on plutonium cores of U.S. nuclear weapons.
  • A specific plutonium isotope powers nuclear weapons, but others power nuclear plants and space travel.
  • The Trump administration wants to begin replacing cores, but a more scientific time frame could save a lot of “rush” money.

The U.S. has nearly 4,000 stockpiled nuclear weapons, and Scientific American wonders what will happen to all of their aging plutonium cores. Experts have said the plutonium will last at least 100 years, but it’s probably still smart to make backup plans—and the Trump administration is doing just that, with aims to replace all the cores by 2080.

Continue reading

US Deploys New Low-Yield Nuclear Submarine Warhead

The US Navy has now deployed the new W76-2 low-yield Trident submarine warhead.

BY: WILLIAM M. ARKIN & HANS M. KRISTENSEN | fas.org

The USS Tennessee (SSBN-734) at sea. The Tennessee is believed to have deployed on an operational patrol in late 2019, the first SSBN to deploy with new low-yield W76-2 warhead. (Picture: U.S. Navy)

The first ballistic missile submarine scheduled to deploy with the new warhead was the USS Tennessee (SSBN-734), which deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia during the final weeks of 2019 for a deterrent patrol in the Atlantic Ocean.

The W76-2 warhead was first announced in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) unveiled in February 2018. There, it was described as a capability to “help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable ‘gap’ in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities,” a reference to Russia. The justification voiced by the administration was that the United States did not have a “prompt” and useable nuclear capability that could counter – and thus deter – Russian use of its own tactical nuclear capabilities.

Continue reading

Iran’s impending exit from the NPT: A new nuclear crisis

“What would an Iranian NPT withdrawal look like? It would spell the end of all IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and the dawn of a new era of complete lack of transparency on Iran’s nuclear activities…Without a doubt, Iran’s NPT exit would represent a severe blow to the global nonproliferation regime, irrespective of Iran’s stated intentions.”

BY: KAVEH L. AFRASIABI & NADER ENTESSAR | thebulletin.org

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in 2019. Zarif recently renewed Iran’s threat of withdrawing from the NPT in the event that the UN Security Council reimposes multilateral sanctions against Iran. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By all accounts, the approaching 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference will have to address new challenges on both the disarmament and nonproliferation fronts. These range from the failure of nuclear weapons states to disarm as the treaty requires to the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the uncertainties surrounding the future of New START after its expiration in early 2021, North Korea’s relentless nuclearization, and Iran’s repeated explicit threats to quit the NPT ever since the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018. Taken as a whole, these developments represent a big leap backward, imperiling international peace and security. Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, the upcoming NPT conference is a unique opportunity to address the root causes of the NPT’s “new crisis” and to map out prudent steps toward crisis prevention, particularly in the volatile Middle East.

Continue reading

Trump’s Latest Attack on the Environment May Be His Most Alarming Yet

“New rules will eliminate consideration of climate change in environmental impact reports; limit the scope of projects that trigger NEPA, allowing companies to conduct their own reviews; implement hard deadlines on environmental reviews and possibly marginalize public input on projects.”

BY: SHARON ZHANG | truthout.org

President Trump speaks during an event to unveil significant changes to the National Environmental Policy Act on January 9, 2020, in Washington, D.C. DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES

Early this month, the Trump administration released planned major changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the oldest environmental law in the U.S. The debate over NEPA is, like most other environmental debates in the U.S., a debate between people representing industry interests and people interested in protecting communities and the environment. And recently, the fossil fuel industry has helped push through another potential win against the law — and this one could have major consequences.

President Donald Trump has shown his hand in this debate many times — he’s continually on the side of corporations, which is unsurprising considering he, himself, is a businessman. Trump has rolled back or begun rolling back 95 environmental regulations as of December. He has been fixated on allowing the building of pipelines. This line of policy has come to a head with his administration’s recent proposal to roll back NEPA, the nation’s oldest environmental law.

Continue reading

The low-yield nuclear warhead: A dangerous weapon based on bad strategic thinking

BY: ANDREW FACINI | thebulletin.org

Workers at the Pantex Plant in Texas handle a W76 nuclear warhead as part of a program to extend its life. Image credit: Pantex Plant via YouTube.

In the unintuitive world of nuclear weapons strategy, it’s often difficult to identify which decisions can serve to decrease the risk of a devastating nuclear conflict and which might instead increase it. Such complexity stems from the very foundation of the field: Nuclear weapons are widely seen as bombs built never to be used. Historically, granular—even seemingly mundane—decisions about force structure, research efforts, or communicated strategy have confounded planners, sometimes causing the opposite of the intended effect.

Such is the risk carried by one strategy change that has earned top billing under the Trump administration: the deployment of a new “low-yield” nuclear weapon on US submarines.

Low-yield, high risk. The Trump administration first announced its plans for a new low-yield nuclear warhead in its February 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a public report meant to communicate and clarify various American nuclear weapons policies. The Nuclear Posture Review presented the lower-strength warhead as necessary for the “preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression.” In other words, the United States was seeking a new, intermediate option for an imagined scenario in which Russia, after starting a conventional war in Europe, might be tempted to use smaller nuclear weapons first in order to win the conflict.

Continue reading

2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement
Washington, D.C. • January 23, 2020

Closer than ever: It is 100 seconds to midnight

Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.

Read the 2020 statement | PRESS RELEASE

In nuclear spending fight, it’s Trump allies vs. White House budget office

BY: AARON MEHTA & JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty runs the agency responsible for America’s nuclear warheads. (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration)

WASHINGTON — A new fight over America’s nuclear budget has erupted from behind the scenes, as key Republicans in Congress are appealing to President Donald Trump for a significant boost to the agency in charge of the nation’s nuclear warheads.

Though there are often disagreements as presidents vet their budgets on Capitol Hill before finalizing them, it’s rare that those fights become public. This time, some of the president’s allies in Congress are battling the White House’s Office of Management and Budget on behalf of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency inside the Department of Energy.

Continue reading

Feds say nuclear weapons work will be open

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRIAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS | abqjournal.com

A review of a proposal to ramp up production of key components for the United States’ nuclear arsenal will be open and transparent, according to members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján said in a joint statement to The Associated Press that they received assurances from federal officials that the review process also will include an opportunity for public comment.

The Democrats were briefed last week by federal officials after the National Nuclear Security Administration announced it did not need to do a more expansive nationwide review of the impacts of building plutonium cores at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

As supporters of bringing more defense-related spending to New Mexico, the lawmakers initially refrained from commenting on whether they would support an expanded review, saying they needed more information. Watchdog groups have argued that federal officials are violating national environmental laws by not doing a more in-depth analysis.

Continue reading

A radioactive legacy haunts this Navajo village, which fears a fractured future

BY: WILL FORD | washingtonpost.com

RED WATER POND ROAD, N.M. — The village of Red Water Pond Road sits in the southeast corner of the Navajo Nation, a tiny speck in a dry valley surrounded by scrub-covered mesas. Many families have lived here for generations. The federal government wants to move them out.

Signs warning of health risks are posted outside the gates of an abandoned uranium mine in the community of Red Water Pond, N.M. (Steven St. John/for The Washington Post)

In what might seem a cruel echo of history, officials are relocating residents to the city of Gallup, about a half-hour away, and surrounding areas. This echo is nuanced, however. The village sits amid a Superfund site loaded with uranium mine waste. Mitigation has been delayed for decades, along with remedies for hundreds of other abandoned uranium mines across the tribe’s lands that boomed during the Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

What If We Have A Nuclear War?

Browse the WatchBlog

Must Reads

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

“The Pacific was victimized in the past as we all know by the scores of nuclear weapons tests above ground, on the ground and underwater in the Marshalls. The consequences of these have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas,”

– United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Congress Directs Repairs to Nuclear Waste ‘Coffin’ Left Over from Atomic Bomb Tests

Congress has taken notice of the otherworldly concrete dome on a spit of coral in the central Pacific that serves as a massive radioactive trash can for doomsday weapons waste.

ARTICLE BY: RICHARD SISK | military.com

Featured Video Play Icon

“Later, when studying physics I became more aware of the fact that we live in an interconnected world relying greatly on fragile technology, that a nuclear war would disrupt our supply chains and lead to a nuclear winter,” – Ivan Stepanov

This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

“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.

Featured Video Play Icon

“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