Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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

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

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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

Recent Posts

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New & Updated

A Tale of Two Consent Orders and What Is Needed

On March 1, 2005, after arduous negotiations and threats of litigation, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), Department of Energy (DOE), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) entered into a Consent Order specifying the schedule for investigation and cleanup of the Lab’s hundreds of contaminated sites. This Consent Order (CO) was LANL’s agreement to fence-to-fence cleanup of Cold War legacy wastes, which NMED began to enforce.

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LANL Regional Coalition Faces More Opposition

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) is facing scrutiny from several directions lately. The Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General is conducting an investigation. Two members of the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners abstained from a vote on new RCLC financial controls because the commissioners opposed blindly supporting LANL’s mission, which is 70% nuclear weapons work. And  SF New Mexican columnist 

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GAO – Environmental Liability Continues to Grow, and Significant Management Challenges Remain for Cleanup Efforts

Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Fiscal Year 2017 Estimated Environmental Liability, by Cleanup Site

DOE Environmental Management’s (EM’s) environmental liability grew by $214 billion in fiscal years 2011 through 2018, even though EM spent over $48 billion on cleanup.

GAO found that this liability may continue to grow for several reasons:

•EM’s environmental liability does not include the costs of all future cleanup responsibilities. For example, as of April 2018, DOE and its contractor had not negotiated a cost for completing a large waste treatment facility, called the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, at the Hanford site.

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The Madness of Nuclear Deterrence

“The dangers have only become more acute in the decades since I tried to convince Thatcher.”

BY MIKHAIL GORBACHEV | wsj.com

‘Deterrence cannot protect the world from a nuclear blunder or nuclear terrorism,” George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn recently wrote. “Both become more likely when there is no sustained, meaningful dialogue between Washington and Moscow.” I agree with them about the urgent need for strategic engagement between the U.S. and Russia. I am also convinced that nuclear deterrence, instead of protecting the world, is keeping it in constant jeopardy.

I asked her: “Are you really comfortable sitting on a nuclear powder keg?” I showed her a diagram representing the world’s nuclear arsenals, grouped into hundreds of squares. Each square, I told her, is enough to eliminate human civilization as we know it. I was unable to persuade Margaret Thatcher. We hear the same arguments today, including in the U.S. and Russia.
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Report: LANL Nuclear Safety Falls Short

This article illustrates why planned expanded plutonium pit production for new nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos Lab has a high probability of failure.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is again facing criticism for failing to ensure nuclear safety in its operations, this time from a U.S. Department of Energy assessment office. (AP Photo/Albuquerque Journal)

BY MARK OSWALD | abqjournal.com

SANTA FE – The U.S. Department of Energy has again found that Los Alamos National Laboratory falls short in ensuring nuclear safety in its operations, even as the lab moves toward a major increase in plutonium work under a mandate to ramp up manufacture of the cores of nuclear weapons.
A report released Monday by a DOE assessment team provides a long list of problems in how LANL manages nuclear safety issues. It notes deficiencies by both the private consortium that managed the lab for about 12 years before losing the $2 billion-plus annual operating contract last year and as well Triad National Security LLC, which took over Nov. 1.
The report says former contractor Los Alamos National Security LLC, or LANS, allowed safety issues to fester with “significant weaknesses.”

There are “institutional behaviors that have allowed identified problems to go uncorrected, problem recurrences to be routinely accepted, and corrective actions to often be delayed for years,” according to the report DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments.

The safety lapses are serious enough that they could lead to another shutdown of operations at LANL’s plutonium facility, the assessment suggests.

Read the report HERE
From the report’s executive summary: Overall, this assessment identified significant weaknesses in the LANS IM [issues management] process and institutional behaviors that have allowed identified problems to go uncorrected, problem recurrences to be routinely accepted, and corrective actions to often be delayed for years.Although the assessment team did not identify any immediate threats to workers, the public, or the environment, these weaknesses in IM, if uncorrected, can allow layers of defense for nuclear safety to degrade to the extent they did leading to the pause in July 2013 of key fissile material operations in the Plutonium Facility at LANL for over four years.

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“According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), EM’s environmental liability grew by about $214 billion from fiscal years 2011 through 2018, more than doubling its cleanup liability in just six years. This dramatically outpaced the roughly $45 billion EM spent on cleanup activities during that period.”

“NukeWatch: We should be expanding cleanup programs instead of nuclear bomb production that made this mess to begin with.”

View the PDF

Our Episode 03 doesn’t have the Night King or hordes of the undead, BUT I do get to talk with Leah Greenberg, co-founder of Indivisible and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019, to discuss her journey from congressional staffer to community organizer. She talks about how the idea for a 2016 handbook ignited a progressive movement of civic engagement for everyday people. Also, Ploughshares Fund’s own Michelle Dover reflects on the legacy of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. John Carl Baker takes a closer look at the motives and intentions of Trump’s offer for arms control talks with Russia and China.

You can listen here: http://pressthebutton.libsyn.com/
Or – Listen and subscribe on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play

View the Filed Brief here
View an Exhibit of Recent Earthquakes in the Area here
More on the UPF Lawsuit here

DOD Official Ducks Question of Plutonium Pit Assurance if Congress Allows Only 1 Site

BY EXCHANGE MONITOR

WASHINGTON – A senior Pentagon official declined to say here Wednesday whether he believes the Department of Energy can deliver nuclear warheads for next-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles on time if Congress does not fund both the plutonium-pit production plants the civilian agency wants to build.

“I’m aware of the issue, but I wouldn’t want to sort of step on my colleagues’ toes by addressing the details,” David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said following a speech at the Brookings Institution. “I’ll defer on that one, for the time being, at least.”

In an email, a spokesperson with DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said the agency “is focused on the two-site approach for plutonium pit production that was endorsed by the Nuclear Weapons Council in May 2018.”

The Donald Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called on the NNSA to annually manufacture 80 pits — fissile nuclear-weapon cores — by 2030.

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In the second episode of Press The Button, the new podcast from Ploughshares Fund, Ned Price, former spokesperson for President Obama’s National Security Council and current Director of Communications and Policy with National Security Action, sits down with host Joe Cirincione. Also: this week’s nuclear news analysis with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Nuclear Field Coordinator and Senior Program Officer John Carl Baker.

You can listen here: http://pressthebutton.libsyn.com/
Or – Listen and subscribe on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play

New Report Spells Out Saner Nuclear Spending Options

BY KINGSTON REIF & ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE | armscontrol.org

Despite characterizing during the Helsinki summit U.S. plans to replace the aging nuclear arsenal as “very, very bad policy,” the Trump administration is pursuing an excessive and unsustainable expansion of the role and capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal to the tune of nearly $500 billion, after inflation, over the next decade. Over the next 30 years, the price tag is likely to top $1.5 trillion and could even approach $2 trillion.

As our newly published report documents, it doesn’t have to be this way. U.S. Nuclear Excess: Understanding the Costs, Risks and Alternatives describes three realistic options to reduce spending on nuclear weapons and recommends steps Congress can take to adjust the programs to deal with the long-term budget challenges.

A companion website will be launched this summer, will provide regular updates on cost estimates and key decisions. The report and website were made possible with support from a project grant from the Charles Koch Foundation.

Hard duty in the Chernobyl zone

Cathie Sullivan, a New Mexico activist, worked with Chernobyl liquidator, Natalia Manzurova, during three trips to the former Soviet Union in the early 2000s. Natalia was one of 750,000 Soviet citizens sent to deal with the Chernobyl catastrophe. Natalia and Cathie together authored a short book, “Hard Duty, A woman’s experience at Chernobyl” describing Natalia’s harrowing four and a half years as a Chernobyl liquidator.

View an excerpt in this ARTICLE FROM beyondnuclearinternational.org

Feds stand by splitting ‘pit’ production between LANL, S.C.

“NNSA’s plans for expanded plutonium pit production is a house of cards waiting to fall down. First, we have an agency with a long track record of cost overruns and schedule slippages. Added to this is the lack of true mission need.
“Plutonium pit production is not being expanded to maintain stockpile safety and reliability. Instead it’s all about provocative new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested, or alternatively will push the U.S. back into testing with serious proliferation consequences.” –
Nuclear Watch New Mexico director Jay Coghlan

BY MARK OSWALD | abqjournal.com

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty

SANTA FE – Key federal agencies are standing by their plan split the work of producing the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons between Los Alamos National Laboratory and another site, a move that New Mexico’s congressional delegation continues to oppose.
But the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Safety Administration were not unequivocal in describing the potential success of a two-site plan for making plutonium “pits.”

“Indeed, no option is without risk,” said NNSA administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty in a news release Wednesday.

The NNSA, which oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons labs, announced that a contractor has completed a study of options for pit production that was mandated by language added to a defense budget bill by New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.

The two senators want all pit production — and the federal dollars and jobs that come with it — to remain at LANL and say turning a facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina into a second pit-production post will make the undertaking much more expensive.

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Robert Mueller, Russian Interference, 2016, Presidential Election, 2016 Presidential Election, Trump, Special Counsel, Investigation, Redacted Mueller Report, Full report,

Critical Events

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

Nuclear Media

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R.I.P. Jerry Fuentes – A True Los Alamos Legend

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Nuclear News

B-2 Stealth Bomber

Massive Upgrade For B-2 Stealth

Air Force officials have started planning a ten billion dollar modernization of the B-2 stealth bomber fleet to include a new receiver using VLF waveform technology that allows the bomber to receive messages in the event of a high altitude electromagnetic pulse, and outfitting the aircraft for next-generation digital nuclear weapons such as the B-61 Mod 12 with the new tail kit, and Long Range Stand-Off weapons- (air-launched nuclear cruise missiles).

From Military.com

U.S. Nuclear Weapon Plans to Cost $355 Billion Over a Decade

“The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems, and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, nearly $150 billion more than the administration’s $208.5 billion estimates in a report to Congress last year; since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023.”

-From Reuters 

See also Are New Nuclear Weapons Affordable?

 

Government Accountability Office

GAO: Accounting Problems at DoD so Significant that a Federal Audit Cannot be Done.

WASHINGTON (January 17, 2013) – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2012 consolidated financial statements of the federal government because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

As was the case in 2011, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements were:

• Serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable.

• The federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies.

• The federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

See More From the GAO

Cost Comparison Debunks LANL’s Outrageous Cleanup Estimate

Can it possibly cost $29 billion to clean up 51 acres? (That’s $568.6 million per acre!) The answer is yes if the estimate comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
NukeWatch has run cost comparisons between the estimate for Area G and two other excavation projects at the Lab. At six acres, excavation of Materials Disposal Area B is almost complete, so we have hard costs. (It is around $22.7 million per acre.) An evaluation of Materials Disposal Area Cwas released this September. The estimated costs for excavation of the 11.8-acre site came out to be $66.7 million per acre. View the cost comparison

Follow the Money

Follow the Money

A chart of Energy Department Weapons Activities Budgets compared to the average spent during the Cold War. Is this the direction we want spending to go for Nuclear Weapons?

LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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

Critical Events

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Pakistan downgrades diplomatic ties, suspends trade with India over Kashmir

Kashmir in lockdown as India plans to change state’s status

BY JESSIE YEUNG & SOPHIA SAIFI | cnn.com

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) Pakistan has announced it will downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India after New Delhi stripped the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status. India’s High Commissioner will also be removed from the country, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Wednesday. It added that Islamabad will not send its own ambassador to New Delhi.

The series of announcements came after a National Security Committee meeting on Wednesday, where the office of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Islamabad would also review bilateral agreements with India and take the issue up with the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

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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

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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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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