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.

Atomic Histories & Nuclear Testing

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

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

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Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

Recent Posts

RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) Board met Thursday in Española.

RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility. Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday's meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

BY BONNIE J. GORDON | ladailypost.com

The meeting included a presentation by Holtec International Program Director Ed Mayer describing the safety features of a proposed storage site in southern New Mexico should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issue the New Jersey-based company a 40-year license. If that happens, Holtec would build a multibillion-dollar site to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States.

“Our job is to prove the facility is safe and secure,” Mayer said.

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New Mexico Appeals Court Expects Waste Volume Status Report Soon

BY EXCHANGE MONITORexchangemonitor.com

The New Mexico Court of Appeals expects a status report by July 31 on mediation between the parties in litigation over changes to the way the Department of Energy calculates the underground volume of transuranic material at its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad.

The mediation began last month between representatives of DOE, the New Mexico Environment Department, and the advocacy groups Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC). The state appeals court routinely requires parties to go to mediation in cases involving state agencies before a lawsuit proceeds to trial, says Don Hancock, director of the SRIC nuclear waste safety program. He declined to elaborate on the status of mediation.

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US arms control office critically understaffed under Trump, experts say

State department office whittled down in staff numbers from 14 at start of administration to four as Trump shifts approach

 The US national security adviser, John Bolton, is widely seen as a lifelong opponent of arms control agreements. Photograph: Oded Balilty/AP
The US national security adviser, John Bolton, is widely seen as a lifelong opponent of arms control agreements. Photograph: Oded Balilty/AP

BY JULIAN BORGER | theguardian.com

A state department office tasked with negotiating and implementing nuclear disarmament treaties has lost more than 70% of its staff over the past two years, as the Trump administration moves towards a world without arms control for the first time in nearly half a century.

The Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs, normally a repository of expertise and institutional knowledge that does the heavy lifting of arms control, has been whittled down from 14 staffers at the start of the Trump administration to four, according to the former staffers.

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Nuke-Backing NDAA Passes Senate in Landslide

Graham and Heinrich double down on pit production and Safety Board threatened by Senate bill

BY DAN LEONEexchangemonitor.com

The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would authorize all the White House’s requested funding for nuclear modernization programs at the Department of Energy and the Pentagon.

The Senate bill would provide a year of bipartisan support for the Donald Trump administration’s nuclear arsenal modernization plans, which are essentially a lightly modified continuation of the 30-year refurbishment the Barack Obama administration started in 2016.

In stark contrast, the House’s version of the NDAA — up for floor debate as soon as the week of July 8 — eyes major changes for the decades-long arsenal refresh by slowing work on nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs at DOE and the Defense Department.

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Tribute to Robert L. Peurifoy

A tribute to the nuclear weapons career of the late Robert L. Peurifoy (1928-2017) was recently posted HERE

The beginning excerpt is below:

This synopsis was written by Gordon Moe, Puerifoy’s fellow Sandia scientist, colleague and friend –
VIEW FULL SYNOPSIS HERE

Cleanup LANL: 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! These meetings with public comment opportunities are upcoming:

Radioactive & Hazardous Materials Committee of the NM State Legislature
Next Meeting: TODAY!! August 23, 2019, from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
University of New Mexico
Los Alamos Wallace Hall, 4000 University Drive, Los Alamos
nmlegis.gov

Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board
Next Meeting: August 28th, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
NNMCAB Office, 94 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque, NM 87506
energy.gov

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities
Next Meeting: September 6, 2019, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location TBA
regionalcoalition.org

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments.

Support NukeWatch: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

New & Updated

The Human Cost of the Hiroshima Bombing

PODCAST: Listen to the story of Kathleen Burkinshaw, the daughter of a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. Kathleen reminds us that she and her mother are among the tens of thousands of people who view nuclear weapons in terms of the friends and family members they lost.

First Instagram post | First Facebook post

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“For this week’s Press the Button, we mark the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing with a special edition episode.”
Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security.

August 6th —  Two interrelated issues are discussed: Should US policy today still reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, and what happened when we did go first nearly three quarters of a century ago?
“To help answer these questions, we bring you the very best from a multitude of our earlier interviews. You’ll hear from nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, former Obama deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, former RAND analyst and releaser of the Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights Carol Cohn, and Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Also featuring special guest Kingston Reif from the Arms Control Association, to discuss recent nuclear news on the Early Warning segment. Kingston talks about the INF Treaty withdrawal, no-first-use, and the latest from Iran..

Listen, Subscribe and Share on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play
Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

Hiroshima Unlearned: Time to Tell the Truth About US-Russia Relations and Finally Ban the Bomb

atomic bomb mushroom clouds
Two aerial photos of atomic bomb mushroom clouds, over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 (left) and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 (right). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Alice Slater

NEW YORK (IDN) – August 6 and 9 mark 74 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where only one nuclear bomb dropped on each city caused the deaths of up to 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. Today, with the U.S. decision to walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) negotiated with the Soviet Union, we are once again staring into the abyss of one of the most perilous nuclear challenges since the height of the Cold War.

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The Democratic Debates Need More Questions About Nuclear War

There is a remarkable incongruity between the existential danger of nuclear war and the absence of public discussion about preventing it. This disconnect is all too apparent today, as arms control and disarmament treaties are scrapped, nations embark on vast nuclear weapons buildups, and governments threaten nuclear war against one another.

The Democratic Debates Need More Questions About Nuclear War, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks while Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio listen during Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks while Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio listen during Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan.
SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

BY LAWRENCE WITTNER |truthout.org

Meanwhile, the mass media routinely avoids these issues but, instead, focuses on movie stars, athletes, and President Donald Trump’s latest tweeted insults.

Do I exaggerate? Consider the following.

In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the laboriously constructed Iran nuclear agreement that had closed off the possibility of that nation developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. pullout was followed by the imposition of heavy U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, as well as by thinly veiled threats by Trump to use nuclear weapons to destroy that country. Irate at these moves, the Iranian government recently retaliated by exceeding the limits set by the shattered agreement on its uranium stockpile and uranium enrichment.

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Arms Control Association – Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the INF Treaty

“The loss of the landmark INF Treaty, which helped end the Cold War nuclear arms race, is a blow to international peace and security.”

Statement from Daryl G. Kimball, executive director | armscontrol.org | Media ContactsDaryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104

“Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty is unacceptable and merits a strong response. But President Trump’s decision to terminate the treaty will not eliminate Russia’s noncompliant 9M729 missiles — and is a mistake.

“Worst of all, blowing up the INF Treaty with no substitute arms control plan in place could open the door to a dangerous new era of unconstrained military competition with Russia.

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The INF Treaty Officially Died Today

Six months after both the United States and Russia announced suspensions of their respective obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the treaty officially died today.

Federation of American Scientists | Posted on Aug.02, 2019 in Arms ControlNuclear WeaponsRussiaUnited States by 

The Federation of American Scientists strongly condemns the irresponsible acts by the Russian and US administrations that have resulted in the demise of this historic and important agreement.

In a they-did-it statement on the State Department’s web site, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo repeated the accusation that Russia has violated the treaty by testing and deploying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range prohibited by the treaty.

“The United States will not remain party [sic] to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia,” he said.

By withdrawing from the INF, the Trump administration has surrendered legal and political pressure on Russia to return to compliance. Instead of diplomacy, the administration appears intent on ramping up military pressure by developing its own INF missiles.

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INF Treaty Collapse

Today, 2 August 2019, the governments of the US and Russia have missed a troubling deadline: the end of the six-month notice period that began when both countries announced their withdrawal from the INF Treaty earlier this year. During this period, the decision could still be reversed if both parties went back to the negotiating table. Now that the deadline has passed, and both states can produce even more nuclear weapons, this time enabled to hit targets in the range of 500 and 5,500 kilometres. These weapons, optimised to destroy cities and wipe out civilian populations, put the whole world – and Europe in particular – at risk.

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Lab Claims of Tremendous Progress Need Second Look

Chromium Plume under LANL
Representation of the Chromium Plume in the regional aquifer under Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Comments to the Northern NM Citizens’ Advisory Board

By Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch NM, July 24, 2019

Tremendous progress requires overall improvement, not just at one spot. A recent Environmental Management Los Alamos (EMLA) press release claimed “tremendous progress” with regards to the chromium (Cr) plume. Media stories then did their job and generalized that everything about the plume was getting better. This is the kind of public relations’ language that does not help to further the discussion on these complex issues.

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As of today, the INF Treaty is officially dead.

The system built to keep us safe from nuclear weapons is being destroyed.

Today the INF Treaty is officially dead, INF treaty, death of INF Treaty, new START, John Bolton, Trump, Putin, Russia, Arms Control

John Bolton is a serial arms control killer, and today President Trump solidified a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin by walking out of Reagan’s treaty. In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and this landmark agreement effectively eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.

“In all likelihood, the death of the INF Treaty will jumpstart missile production on both sides.”
Matt Korda

Moscow blamed Washington. “The denunciation of the INF Treaty confirms that the US is set on destroying all international agreements that do not suit them for one reason or another,” the statement said. “This will lead to the dismantling of the existing arms control regime.” (1)

The INF Treaty will be missed; it helped keep us safe from nuclear war for 32 years. The death of the INF treaty means that the US will now have just one arms control agreement with Russia left.

The New Start Treaty limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads Russia and the US can have to 1,550, but this treaty is also on Bolton’s hit list. The US National Security Adviser declared in June that Washington was unlikely to extend New Start past its 2021 expiration deadline. If Trump allows New START to wither away as the INF Treaty did, the world will enter a new era without any limitations on the two largest nuclear arsenals on the planet.

Read a full obituary of the INF Treaty by Matt Korda:
In Memoriam: The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Dies at 32

A nuclear treaty is about to vanish. Its demise should teach a lesson.

On Friday, a pillar of global security will expire.

BY EDITORIAL BOARD | washingtonpost.com

Perhaps no one will notice when the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 slips into oblivion; the threat of nuclear attack in just minutes that seemed so unnerving during the late 20th century has now faded into a distant memory, lost to complacency at the Cold War’s end. But the demise of the INF Treaty should teach a lesson.

Arms control, creating verifiable treaties to limit and reduce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, had its mystique: obtuse concepts, exotic hardware and mind-bending negotiations. But at its core, arms control was about political willpower. In the case of the INF Treaty, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev summoned enough of it to eliminate an entire class of deployed weapons, the ground-based missiles with a range of between 300 and 3,400 miles, and their launchers. The treaty made the world safer not only by removing a nuclear threat to Europe but also by introducing novel measures such as intrusive verification and on-site inspections.

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If New START Dies, These Questions Will Need Answers

There’s little public indication that the Trump administration is thinking about several things that will happen if the last strategic arms agreement is allowed to expire.

BY VINCENT MANZO & MADISON ESTES | defenseone.com

U.S. AIR FORCE / SENIOR AIRMAN CHRISTOPHER QUAIL  AA FONT SIZE + PRINT A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept 23, 2018.
U.S. AIR FORCE / SENIOR AIRMAN CHRISTOPHER QUAIL
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept 23, 2018.

The Trump administration has articulated an ambitious new vision for nuclear arms control, one that includes China and seeks to limit more types of Russian systems. This vision appears to have little room for the New START agreement, which helped to cap U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and which is due to expire in 2021. And yet there is little in the public record to indicate how the administration would deal with various problems that would surface if New START is left to die.

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460,000 Premature Deaths: The Horror That Was Nuclear Weapons Testing -As we mark the seventy-fourth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in a handful of days, we will rightly remember the horrors of nuclear war.

As we mark the seventy-fourth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in a handful of days, we will rightly remember the horrors of nuclear war.

BY ZACK BROWN & ALEX SPIRE

For a brief fraction of a second on an early March morning in 1954, the United States summoned a second sun into existence above Bikini Atoll.

As the four-mile wide fireball bathed the Pacific seascape in its angry, white-red light, onlookers recognized something nearly divine—and unquestionably ominous. “It was a religious experience, a personal view of the apocalypse or transfiguration,” said one observer. Another remembered feeling “like you stepped into a blast furnace,” even though he was over thirty miles away.

This was the Castle Bravo thermonuclear test, one of several dozen nuclear detonations the United States carried out in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War. At 15 million tons of TNT—one thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima—it was the largest explosion ever set off by Americans. 

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Inside the Secret Campaign to Export U.S. Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia

Industry coalition’s push to win over the Trump administration is concerning officials on Capitol Hill who are fearful that it could threaten U.S. national security.

Inside the Secret Campaign to Export U.S. Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia - Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

ERIN BANCO | thedailybeast.com

When President Donald Trump took the stage in the East Room of the White House earlier this month to give his first speech on the environment, nuclear energy executives and industry leaders held their breath. They exchanged text messages with fellow colleagues during the speech’s broadcast, wondering aloud to one another if Trump had taken the bait.

Since the fall of 2016, the executives have built an underground coalition along with academics, technology experts and well-connected politicos, including some lobbyists, to get the president and his administration to support—even promote—an American nuclear energy comeback. The industry has declined in recent years due mostly to the closing of critical nuclear infrastructure and plants. Between 2010 and 2018, only one new nuclear power plant came online in the United States.

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Action Alerts

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Nuclear News

New Mexico land boss concerned with nuclear waste proposal

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says southeastern New Mexico, which is home to one of the world’s most prolific oil and gas basins, is not the right place for storing spent nuclear fuel.

In a letter to Holtec International, she outlined her concerns about plans to build a multibillion-dollar facility that would be capable of temporarily storing tons of high-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors around the U.S.

Nearly 2,500 oil and gas wells and other mineral developments operated by dozens of different businesses are located within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the proposed site. Garcia Richard contends that storing the waste above active oil, gas and mining operations raises serious safety concerns.

She accused the company of not addressing the potential safety issues and suggested that it hasn’t been forthcoming in its filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is considering whether to issue a 40-year license for the facility.

“There is no guarantee that high-level nuclear waste can be safely transported to and through New Mexico. There is no guarantee that there won’t be a hazardous interaction between the storage site and nearby oil, gas and mining activities. There is no guarantee that this site will truly be ‘interim’ and won’t become the permanent dumping ground for our nation’s nuclear waste,” she said in a statement.

Holtec International has argued that the federal government has unmet obligations to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of waste building up at nuclear power plants and the proposed facility is needed.

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LANL cleanup costs continue piling up

The U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 drafted a list of 17 projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the surrounding town to clean up soil and groundwater that remained contaminated decades after the Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons work.

At the time, more than $2 billion had been spent in a decade on environmental cleanup projects. The Department of Energy estimated it would cost another $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion to finish the job — and up to 25 more years.

The work is far from complete.

Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said cleanup costs have been “woefully underestimated,” and that an updated cost analysis is overdue.

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Nuclear Waste Storage Concerns Raised By Panel Members During Santa Fe Forum

Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday in Santa Fe
Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday June 19, 2019 in Santa Fe were, from left, Don Hancock, Sally Rodgers, Rep. Christine Chandler and State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

BY MAIRE O’NEILL
maire@losalamosreporter.com

Multiple concerns were raised by panel members Wednesday June 21, 2019 during a forum on nuclear waste in the state of New Mexico hosted by the Santa Fe Democratic Party Platform and Resolutions Committee at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe.

Land Commissioner Garcia Richard said her office has direct oversight of mineral leasing at the proposed Holtec site. She made public a letter she sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing her concerns about representations made by Holtec to the NRC and New Mexicans about its control of the proposed site as well as agreements it claims to have secured from the state Land Office. She said while the Eddy-Leah County Energy Alliance LLC privately owns the surface of the proposed site, the State Land Office owns the mineral estate and that has not been disclosed by Holtec.

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Government watchdog finds 3 issues disrupting US nuclear modernization efforts

Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)
Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

BY KELSEY REICHMANN | defensenews.com June 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. agency responsible for making explosive materials used in nuclear weapons is facing challenges that could impact the country’s planned modernization of its nuclear arsenal, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within the Energy Department, is facing three main challenges, according to the report: a dwindling supply of explosive materials, aging and deteriorating infrastructure, and difficulty in recruiting and training qualified staff.

This report comes amid congressional debate over the cost of modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, an effort driven by President Donald Trump.

NNSA’s supply of materials, which are “highly specialized” with specific chemical and physical characteristics, are in low supply, the report says. Furthermore, the NNSA is lacking the knowledge base to produce the materials, as the recipes to make them were not well-documented, or the processes themselves infrequently practiced, the report notes.

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Billion-dollar LANL building has plumbing problem

BY MARK OSWALD / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 12:05am Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A building at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a price pegged at more than $1 billion apparently has some bad plumbing.

A federal safety oversight board recently reported that the operations staff at the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building found a leak in the building’s radioactive liquid waste system.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent LANL critic who called attention to the recent safety board report, said the plumbing problem is symptomatic of the lab’s history of safety issues, which has included using the wrong kind of cat litter as a desiccant when packing a radioactive waste drum. A reaction in the drum caused it to breach in 2014 and contaminate the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad.

Read the complete article here

Federal nuclear board nixes request for hearing on New Mexico waste facility

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view
Artist Rendering of proposed ELEA/Holtec “storage” plan for commercial reactor spent fuel rods in southeast New Mexico

A federal board that oversees commercial nuclear materials and licenses said Tuesday it has rejected a request by a group of opponents over a proposed nuclear waste storage site in Southern New Mexico.

Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company specializing in nuclear reactor technology, is waiting on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve its license for an expansive facility that could be used to hold all of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — radioactive uranium left over from power production.

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The U.S. Wanted to Hide Nukes in Arctic Ice Tunnels. The Plan Blew Up in Their Faces.

A Greenlander with his dog sleigh looks at the radars at Thule Air Base in Northern Greenland in 1966. NF/AFP/Getty Images

BY VINCE HOUGHTON | time.com May 7, 2019

As far as these things go, Camp Century was a pretty good cover. It was nominally designed as an underground military research station, located about 150 miles east of the American air base at Thule, Greenland. The stated purpose of Camp Century was to improve the American defense capability in the Arctic — to develop better survival and transportation techniques, and to obtain more useful knowledge about the harsh climate and the physical properties of the region. In essence, we covered up for a super-secret operation using a kinda-secret one.

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The New York Times sent a climate policy survey to the 18 declared candidates. They all want to stick to the Paris Agreement. Beyond that, they diverge.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at a rally for the Green New Deal at the Capitol last month.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at a rally for the Green New Deal at the Capitol last month.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

BY LISA FRIEDMAN & MAGGIE ASTOR | nytimes.com

The nuclear option

The most divisive policy among the candidates was nuclear energy. Many climate change activists reject nuclear plants, even though they emit no carbon dioxide, because of safety concerns and a general preference for wind, solar and other purely renewable sources. And only seven candidates were unequivocally in favor of new nuclear energy development.

Mr. Sanders, who has called for a moratorium on nuclear power license renewals in the United States, rejected nuclear energy, as did Ms. Gabbard and Mr. Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Fla.

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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.

Action Alerts

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Critical Events

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New & Updated

The Human Cost of the Hiroshima Bombing

PODCAST: Listen to the story of Kathleen Burkinshaw, the daughter of a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. Kathleen reminds us that she and her mother are among the tens of thousands of people who view nuclear weapons in terms of the friends and family members they lost.

First Instagram post | First Facebook post

Continue reading

“For this week’s Press the Button, we mark the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing with a special edition episode.”
Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security.

August 6th —  Two interrelated issues are discussed: Should US policy today still reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, and what happened when we did go first nearly three quarters of a century ago?
“To help answer these questions, we bring you the very best from a multitude of our earlier interviews. You’ll hear from nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, former Obama deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, former RAND analyst and releaser of the Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights Carol Cohn, and Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Also featuring special guest Kingston Reif from the Arms Control Association, to discuss recent nuclear news on the Early Warning segment. Kingston talks about the INF Treaty withdrawal, no-first-use, and the latest from Iran..

Listen, Subscribe and Share on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play
Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

Hiroshima Unlearned: Time to Tell the Truth About US-Russia Relations and Finally Ban the Bomb

atomic bomb mushroom clouds
Two aerial photos of atomic bomb mushroom clouds, over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 (left) and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945 (right). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Alice Slater

NEW YORK (IDN) – August 6 and 9 mark 74 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where only one nuclear bomb dropped on each city caused the deaths of up to 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. Today, with the U.S. decision to walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) negotiated with the Soviet Union, we are once again staring into the abyss of one of the most perilous nuclear challenges since the height of the Cold War.

Continue reading

The Democratic Debates Need More Questions About Nuclear War

There is a remarkable incongruity between the existential danger of nuclear war and the absence of public discussion about preventing it. This disconnect is all too apparent today, as arms control and disarmament treaties are scrapped, nations embark on vast nuclear weapons buildups, and governments threaten nuclear war against one another.

The Democratic Debates Need More Questions About Nuclear War, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks while Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio listen during Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks while Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio listen during Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan.
SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

BY LAWRENCE WITTNER |truthout.org

Meanwhile, the mass media routinely avoids these issues but, instead, focuses on movie stars, athletes, and President Donald Trump’s latest tweeted insults.

Do I exaggerate? Consider the following.

In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the laboriously constructed Iran nuclear agreement that had closed off the possibility of that nation developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. pullout was followed by the imposition of heavy U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, as well as by thinly veiled threats by Trump to use nuclear weapons to destroy that country. Irate at these moves, the Iranian government recently retaliated by exceeding the limits set by the shattered agreement on its uranium stockpile and uranium enrichment.

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Arms Control Association – Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the INF Treaty

“The loss of the landmark INF Treaty, which helped end the Cold War nuclear arms race, is a blow to international peace and security.”

Statement from Daryl G. Kimball, executive director | armscontrol.org | Media ContactsDaryl G. Kimball, executive director, 202-463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104

“Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty is unacceptable and merits a strong response. But President Trump’s decision to terminate the treaty will not eliminate Russia’s noncompliant 9M729 missiles — and is a mistake.

“Worst of all, blowing up the INF Treaty with no substitute arms control plan in place could open the door to a dangerous new era of unconstrained military competition with Russia.

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The INF Treaty Officially Died Today

Six months after both the United States and Russia announced suspensions of their respective obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the treaty officially died today.

Federation of American Scientists | Posted on Aug.02, 2019 in Arms ControlNuclear WeaponsRussiaUnited States by 

The Federation of American Scientists strongly condemns the irresponsible acts by the Russian and US administrations that have resulted in the demise of this historic and important agreement.

In a they-did-it statement on the State Department’s web site, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo repeated the accusation that Russia has violated the treaty by testing and deploying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range prohibited by the treaty.

“The United States will not remain party [sic] to a treaty that is deliberately violated by Russia,” he said.

By withdrawing from the INF, the Trump administration has surrendered legal and political pressure on Russia to return to compliance. Instead of diplomacy, the administration appears intent on ramping up military pressure by developing its own INF missiles.

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INF Treaty Collapse

Today, 2 August 2019, the governments of the US and Russia have missed a troubling deadline: the end of the six-month notice period that began when both countries announced their withdrawal from the INF Treaty earlier this year. During this period, the decision could still be reversed if both parties went back to the negotiating table. Now that the deadline has passed, and both states can produce even more nuclear weapons, this time enabled to hit targets in the range of 500 and 5,500 kilometres. These weapons, optimised to destroy cities and wipe out civilian populations, put the whole world – and Europe in particular – at risk.

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Lab Claims of Tremendous Progress Need Second Look

Chromium Plume under LANL
Representation of the Chromium Plume in the regional aquifer under Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Comments to the Northern NM Citizens’ Advisory Board

By Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch NM, July 24, 2019

Tremendous progress requires overall improvement, not just at one spot. A recent Environmental Management Los Alamos (EMLA) press release claimed “tremendous progress” with regards to the chromium (Cr) plume. Media stories then did their job and generalized that everything about the plume was getting better. This is the kind of public relations’ language that does not help to further the discussion on these complex issues.

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As of today, the INF Treaty is officially dead.

The system built to keep us safe from nuclear weapons is being destroyed.

Today the INF Treaty is officially dead, INF treaty, death of INF Treaty, new START, John Bolton, Trump, Putin, Russia, Arms Control

John Bolton is a serial arms control killer, and today President Trump solidified a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin by walking out of Reagan’s treaty. In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and this landmark agreement effectively eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.

“In all likelihood, the death of the INF Treaty will jumpstart missile production on both sides.”
Matt Korda

Moscow blamed Washington. “The denunciation of the INF Treaty confirms that the US is set on destroying all international agreements that do not suit them for one reason or another,” the statement said. “This will lead to the dismantling of the existing arms control regime.” (1)

The INF Treaty will be missed; it helped keep us safe from nuclear war for 32 years. The death of the INF treaty means that the US will now have just one arms control agreement with Russia left.

The New Start Treaty limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads Russia and the US can have to 1,550, but this treaty is also on Bolton’s hit list. The US National Security Adviser declared in June that Washington was unlikely to extend New Start past its 2021 expiration deadline. If Trump allows New START to wither away as the INF Treaty did, the world will enter a new era without any limitations on the two largest nuclear arsenals on the planet.

Read a full obituary of the INF Treaty by Matt Korda:
In Memoriam: The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty Dies at 32

A nuclear treaty is about to vanish. Its demise should teach a lesson.

On Friday, a pillar of global security will expire.

BY EDITORIAL BOARD | washingtonpost.com

Perhaps no one will notice when the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 slips into oblivion; the threat of nuclear attack in just minutes that seemed so unnerving during the late 20th century has now faded into a distant memory, lost to complacency at the Cold War’s end. But the demise of the INF Treaty should teach a lesson.

Arms control, creating verifiable treaties to limit and reduce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, had its mystique: obtuse concepts, exotic hardware and mind-bending negotiations. But at its core, arms control was about political willpower. In the case of the INF Treaty, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev summoned enough of it to eliminate an entire class of deployed weapons, the ground-based missiles with a range of between 300 and 3,400 miles, and their launchers. The treaty made the world safer not only by removing a nuclear threat to Europe but also by introducing novel measures such as intrusive verification and on-site inspections.

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If New START Dies, These Questions Will Need Answers

There’s little public indication that the Trump administration is thinking about several things that will happen if the last strategic arms agreement is allowed to expire.

BY VINCENT MANZO & MADISON ESTES | defenseone.com

U.S. AIR FORCE / SENIOR AIRMAN CHRISTOPHER QUAIL  AA FONT SIZE + PRINT A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept 23, 2018.
U.S. AIR FORCE / SENIOR AIRMAN CHRISTOPHER QUAIL
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept 23, 2018.

The Trump administration has articulated an ambitious new vision for nuclear arms control, one that includes China and seeks to limit more types of Russian systems. This vision appears to have little room for the New START agreement, which helped to cap U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and which is due to expire in 2021. And yet there is little in the public record to indicate how the administration would deal with various problems that would surface if New START is left to die.

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460,000 Premature Deaths: The Horror That Was Nuclear Weapons Testing -As we mark the seventy-fourth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in a handful of days, we will rightly remember the horrors of nuclear war.

As we mark the seventy-fourth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in a handful of days, we will rightly remember the horrors of nuclear war.

BY ZACK BROWN & ALEX SPIRE

For a brief fraction of a second on an early March morning in 1954, the United States summoned a second sun into existence above Bikini Atoll.

As the four-mile wide fireball bathed the Pacific seascape in its angry, white-red light, onlookers recognized something nearly divine—and unquestionably ominous. “It was a religious experience, a personal view of the apocalypse or transfiguration,” said one observer. Another remembered feeling “like you stepped into a blast furnace,” even though he was over thirty miles away.

This was the Castle Bravo thermonuclear test, one of several dozen nuclear detonations the United States carried out in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War. At 15 million tons of TNT—one thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima—it was the largest explosion ever set off by Americans. 

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Inside the Secret Campaign to Export U.S. Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia

Industry coalition’s push to win over the Trump administration is concerning officials on Capitol Hill who are fearful that it could threaten U.S. national security.

Inside the Secret Campaign to Export U.S. Nuclear Tech to Saudi Arabia - Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

ERIN BANCO | thedailybeast.com

When President Donald Trump took the stage in the East Room of the White House earlier this month to give his first speech on the environment, nuclear energy executives and industry leaders held their breath. They exchanged text messages with fellow colleagues during the speech’s broadcast, wondering aloud to one another if Trump had taken the bait.

Since the fall of 2016, the executives have built an underground coalition along with academics, technology experts and well-connected politicos, including some lobbyists, to get the president and his administration to support—even promote—an American nuclear energy comeback. The industry has declined in recent years due mostly to the closing of critical nuclear infrastructure and plants. Between 2010 and 2018, only one new nuclear power plant came online in the United States.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Atomic Homefront by Deborah Cammissa

Atomic Homefront

By award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Cammissa

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

See more…

Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff

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

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

Almighty Dan Zak

Almighty

Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age 

By Dan Zak, reviewed by Kai Bird

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

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

more at NYTimes


Interview with Dan Zak, “Almighty” author 

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

audio podcast

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink by William J. Perry

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

William J. Perry [Former Secretary of Defense]

Published by Stanford Security Studies, Nov. 2015

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

In his own words:

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

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

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

 

Quotes

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Trinity Test - Alamogordo, NM - July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds
Trinity Test – Alamogordo, NM – July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds

— From the Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW REPORT HERE

“Don’t imagine we are going to keep everything quiet, say nothing and then at the last minute go ta-da! and surprise everyone. No. This is a process of continual negotiation and talking.”— Joan Girling, member of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), an environmental group protesting against the French energy company EDF.


— Joan Girling, member of  Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), an environmental group protesting against the French energy company EDF.

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“The managers of the weapon program now seem to believe that their mission is to increase the weapon program budget and protect payroll.”

An observation from the late Robert L. Peurifoy (1928-2017)

A tribute to the nuclear weapons and arms control expert was recently posted on Google here

Bob Peurifoy managed design and development of nuclear weapons at the Sandia Corporation for 39 years and devoted all his retired years to independent consulting on nuclear weapons and arms control issues with several scientific organizations. The “Tribute” contains excerpts from his 2011-2016 e-mail archive.

“At a time of rising nuclear tensions, casually postulating about the potential upsides of a nuclear attack is obtuse in the extreme.”

Senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Alexandra Bell – commenting on the Nuclear Operations document that was taken down from the Pentagon online site after a week, and is now only available through a restricted access electronic library. The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could “create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability”, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week.

“Posting a document about nuclear operations and then promptly deleting it shows a lack of messaging discipline and a lack of strategy. Further, at a time of rising nuclear tensions, casually postulating about the potential upsides of a nuclear attack is obtuse in the extreme.”

A 1971 French nuclear test explosion on Mururoa atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean. Photograph: AFP
A 1971 French nuclear test explosion on Mururoa atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean. Photograph: AFP

Nuclear weapons: experts alarmed by new Pentagon ‘war-fighting’ doctrine theguardian.com

“If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,”

— Lyudmilla Ignatenko, remembering the 1986 Chernobyl disaster

businessinsider.com | In the wake of the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident, which forced the city of Pripyat in what was then part of the Soviet Union to evacuate after being exposed to toxic levels of radiation, Soviet officials publicly downplayed the incident. To this day, scientists are still working to understand the effects of the fatal explosion.

A firefighter named Vasily Ignatenko and his wife, Lyudmilla, were scheduled to leave for Belarus the morning of the explosion, but their plans were curtailed when Vasily rushed to the power plant at about 1:30 a.m. He promised to wake his wife when he got home, but his severe radiation poisoning forced him to be taken to the hospital.

When Lyudmilla visited her husband, she was ordered not to touch him. “If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,” she recalled being told in the book “Voices from Chernobyl.”

Lyudmilla was pregnant at the time but lied to the radiologist to see her husband. Vasily died 14 days after the accident and was buried, as the series shows, in a zinc coffin. Lyudmilla eventually gave birth to her baby, who died after four hours.