At Y-12, the cost of designing the Uranium Processing Facility keeps spiraling: $92 million in '06, $2 billion by '16. (How do you spend 2 billion dollars designing anything?)
- See OREPA's June '15 UPF update
"The Energy Department has proven to be incapable of managing a project of this magnitude and importance. The agency has shown a long-standing intolerance for whistleblowers while conducting faith-based management of its contractors regardless of poor performance. This has bred a culture in which no safety misdeed goes unrewarded."
- Robert Alvarez, a former senior Energy Department official during the Clinton administration, commenting on the leaked draft DOE report on the Hanford nuclear waste treatment plant nearing completion, in "Leaked report cites design flaws in plant built to treat nuclear waste", Washington Post, August 25, 2015.
Ben Ortiz, 1937-2015
Ben Ortiz, a former mechanical technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory who founded the Los Alamos Project on Worker Safety, died July 18 at his family home in Nambe. He was 77.
(more on Ben's life and work)
Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch Director, interview: Earth Matters Radio re legacy of the US nuclear weapons program on the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. Thursday Aug 6 at 10 am and 8 pm on 89.1FM. Archived podcast here
Successful Citizen Activism Against
Expanded U.S. Plutonium Pit Production
This is the unsung story of successful citizen activism against repeated government attempts to expand the production of plutonium pit cores, which has always been the choke point of resumed U.S. nuclear weapons production. This history is a critical part of the march toward a future world free of nuclear weapons. We gratefully dedicate it to Leroy Moore, longtime activist with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and J. Carson Mark, retired director of the Los Alamos Lab's Theoretical Division and ardent arms control advocate.
(View/download full report- PDF)
March 27: NukeWatch Fact Sheet Plutonium Pit Production
In 1989, an FBI raid investigating environmental crimes abruptly stopped the annual production of hundreds of plutonium pits at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver.
In 1997 the Department of Energy reestablished limited production of up to 20 pits per year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
Since the turn of the century citizen activists have stopped the National Nuclear Security Administration in each of its four attempts to expand production far beyond the 20 plutonium pits per year.
Plutonium pit production has always been the choke point for resumed U.S. production of new nuclear weapons. See the NukeWatch fact sheet including a timeline of pit production restart attempts:
(View/download "Plutonium Pit Production at LANL")
Who Will Claim Ronald Reagan's Mantle On Nuclear Disarmament Today?
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?" -1984 State of the Union
"We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth."
-Inaugural Address, 1985
"My dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth."
-from "Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Weapons" by Paul Lettow
(Read more of "Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Nuclear Weapons" by Jonathan Granhoff, President, Global Security Institute)
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"If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!" - Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.
For immediate release, August 22, 2015: Watchdogs Denounce Slap on Wrist for Illegal Lobbying Activities By the World's Biggest Defense Contractor- and Demand Real Accountability by Barring Lockheed Martin From Future Sandia Labs Contract
Nuclear Watch New Mexico denounces the $4.7 million settlement agreement as a slap on the wrist for the world's biggest defense contractor. Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition, and engaged in deep and systemic corruption, including paying Congresswoman Heather Wilson $10,000 a month starting the day after she left office for so-called consulting services that had no written work requirements. There should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws, and Lockheed Marin should be barred from future competition for the Sandia Labs contract, expected next year.
View full press release (PDF) View Department of Justice's settlement agreement (PDF) View Rep. Heather Wilson's contract and invoices pursuant to our FOIA request (PDF)
James Doyle: Beware the Nuclear Experts
"In a summary of recommendations from their "Project Atom" study recently completed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Clark Murdock and Thomas Karako advocate a mobilization of America's nuclear weapons industry to build a new generation of forward-deployed, low-yield nuclear weapons.
"It is critical to remember that we have been down this road before. We know that deployments such as those proposed by the CSIS study can increase rather than decrease the risk of nuclear war by miscalculation..." (read article at DefenseNews.com) James Doyle is an independent nuclear security specialist supported by the Ploughshares Fund and a non-resident associate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Dr. Doyle also serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico's steering committee.
August 21, 2015: DOE Red Team Report: Drop Savannah River MOX Plant, Bury Plutonium at WIPP
A "Red Team" of experts led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Mason has confirmed what the Energy Department has been saying for two years- that burying 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium would be far cheaper and more practical than completing a multibillion-dollar plant that would turn the radioactive material into commercial reactor fuel.
The Department of Energy tried to kill the project in 2013, but Congress has kept it on budgetary life support, with the strong support of South Carolina's congressional delegation. The study essentially says that sooner or later the Energy Department will be forced to abandon the fuel plant, and the sooner it does so the better.
(more at Publicintegrity.org)
For immediate release, August 12, 2015: Nuclear Weapons Experts File Amicus Brief in Support of Marshall Islands The Marshall Islands lawsuit seeks to compel the US to begin talks to eliminate nuclear weapons as promised in the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The amicus brief has been prepared by: Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists; Dr. James Doyle, a nuclear nonproliferation expert fired by Los Alamos National Lab after publishing a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition; Robert Alvarez, a former Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, now at the Institute for Policy Studies; and Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
View/download full press release (PDF)
View/download the amicus brief (PDF) See also: 'Four Reasons Why U.S. Claims of NPT Compliance Are False', a NukeWatch fact sheet presented during the 2015 NPT RevCon: view/download PDF
The US detonated 67 nuclear bombs on the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1953
Recommended: Robert Alvarez writing in The Bulletin: The Marshall Islands and the NPT Six months after the Japanese surrender in World War 2, the American military dropped a nuclear bomb on the Marshall Islands' Bikini Atoll, which had just become a "protectorate" of the US. It was the first nuclear detonation since Nagasaki. There followed many more, and by 1956, the United States Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as "by far the most contaminated place in the world". Castle Bravo, dropped on the Marshalls in 1954 was the largest bomb the US has ever detonated. Alvarez notes that "The Bravo bomb cloud dwarfed the radioactive releases of the Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents, containing nearly 30 times more radioactive iodine than the two reactor accidents combined." Excerpts:
"Through its lawsuits, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has exposed a huge loophole, carved out by the original five recognized nuclear weapons states at the Non-Proliferation Treaty's inception during the Cold War. Article VI requires the nuclear weapons states to engage in good-faith negotiation on disarmament, but does not actually require disarmament or set a timeline on which it should occur. By seeking a binding legal requirement for weapons states to engage in nuclear disarmament, the Marshall Islands and numerous nations are hoping to plug this loophole, which undermines the NPT."
"During the NPT Review Conference just concluded, the United States tried to divert the focus of the participants from efforts by the nuclear weapons countries to indefinitely preserve and improve their nuclear weapons stockpiles.
"All of these efforts create at least the appearance that the United States- and Russia and the other nuclear countries, which are involved in their own nuclear modernization projects- intends to avoid disarmament indefinitely."
"Land mines are banned by international convention because they have proven to be 'excessively injurious' weapons that are indiscriminate and grossly violate international humanitarian law on the conduct of war. There's little doubt that nuclear weapons are far more excessive and indiscriminate in the injuries they cause. Marshallese Foreign Minister DeBrum makes a strong case that nuclear weapons development, in and of itself, violates basic humanitarian principles and therefore fits the criteria for banning. DeBrum and the Marshallese people are far from alone in arguing for an outright nuclear weapons ban;
"Support is building worldwide for nuclear weapons to be recognized- under binding international law- as unacceptable instruments of war that belong in the dustbin of history."
(Read the full article online at the Bulletin)
See also: Marshall Islands Dossier
On Nagasaki Anniversary, Pope Francis Calls for a Ban on Nuclear Weapons
"After so long that tragic event still causes horror and repulsion... It became the symbol of the boundless destructive power of man, when the achievements of science and technology are put to wrong use. It remains a permanent warning for humanity to reject war forever and to ban nuclear weapons and every weapon of mass destruction.- Pope Francis, speaking from the Vatican August 9th, 2015. (ref)
City of Nagasaki Peace Declaration Delivered by Mayor Tomihisa Taue at the August 9, 2015 commemoration of the
70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of his city
"At 11:02 am on the 9th August 1945, a single atomic bomb instantly reduced Nagasaki to a ruin. A vast amount of radiation passed through people's bodies, and the city was struck by heat rays and a blast that defy imagination...
"The greatest power to realize a world without war and without nuclear weapons lies inside each and every one of us. Listen to stories of the war, sign petitions for nuclear abolition, and visit atomic bomb exhibitions. Together, these individual actions can create a much larger power. In Nagasaki, the younger generation, which includes second and third generation hibakusha, are inheriting the wish for peace and are taking action. Our individual strengths are the greatest power in realizing a world without war and without nuclear weapons. The power of civil society is the power to move governments, and to move the world...
"We, the people of Nagasaki, offer our most heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives to the atomic bomb. We hereby declare that together with the citizens of Hiroshima, we shall continue to use all our strength to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and the realization of peace."
(see full declaration here)
The Harrowing Story Of The Nagasaki Bombing Mission
Three days after the uranium bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. 70,000 people died with that blast. The mission was so plagued with snafus that it was considered 'miraculous' that it actually succeeded, hardly appropriate words for such an act of mass destruction and killing. This second bomb would be the basis for all future nuclear weapons designs, and yet, perhaps due to the screw-ups, the Nagasaki mission was never described in detail, until now..
Ellen Bradbury and Sandra Blakeslee uncovered the whole crazy story for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists... excerpts:
"A red light that had been blinking steadily suddenly sped up, flashing a dire warming.
Ashworth shook himself awake. 'Are you sure? Oh my God.' He saw the red light. 'There is something... do you have the blueprints? This bomb can pre-detonate if we drop below a predetermined level. What's our altitude? Where are the blueprints?'"
Read the full story at the Bulletin.
See also Alex Wellerstein's piece in the New Yorker: Nagasaki: The Last Bomb
City of Hiroshima Peace Declaration August 6, 2015 Delivered by Mayor Matsui at the August 6, 2015 commemoration of the
70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of his city
"In our town, we had the warmth of family life, the deep human bonds of community, festivals heralding each season, traditional culture and buildings passed down through history, as well as riversides where children played. At 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945, all of that was destroyed by a single atomic bomb. Below the mushroom cloud, a charred mother and child embraced, countless corpses floated in rivers, and buildings burned to the ground. Tens of thousands were burned in those flames. By year's end, 140,000 irreplaceable lives had been taken...
"Meanwhile, our world still bristles with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, and policymakers in the nuclear-armed states remain trapped in provincial thinking, repeating by word and deed their nuclear intimidation. We now know about the many incidents and accidents that have taken us to the brink of nuclear war or nuclear explosions. Today, we worry as well about nuclear terrorism.
"As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a hibakusha* at any time. If that happens, the damage will reach indiscriminately beyond national borders. People of the world, please listen carefully to the words of the hibakusha and, profoundly accepting the spirit of Hiroshima, contemplate the nuclear problem as your own." (see full declaration here) *hibakusha: atomic bomb survivor(s)
Nuclear Weapons: 70 Years On and Riskier Than Ever
When on the early morning of July 16, 1945, the first nuclear bomb was detonated in southern New Mexico, observers spoke of their feelings of awe and dread. 3 weeks later, when further nuclear bombs
were detonated above the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the appalling results could only elicit horror; the only documentary footage immediately following the attack was suppressed for decades.
In the aftermath, many scientists called for the abolition of the bomb; statesmen called for its control by an international agency. But the Cold War confrontation saw a staggering proliferation of nuclear weapons between the two superpowers; finally the sense of dread grew so great that the leaders of both sides sought ways to jointly reduce their arsenals, and even, in the case of Reagan and Gorbachev, dreamt of abolishing these weapons. When in the early nineties the Cold War ended without a shot, many assumed we might finally move rapidly on nuclear disarmament, in keeping with the pledges made when we signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
And indeed, the insane arsenals of the US and Russia were cut back significantly. But ultimately, instead of seizing the chance to be rid of nuclear weapons for good, the prevailing attitude seemed to become 'might as well keep some around, you know, just in case, you never know.' A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, there are still 15,700 nuclear weapons in the world, and the US and Russia together account for 14,700 of them. (ref)
These numbers are still plenty insane, but the weapons are indeed there, and they are deployed, and many are still on hair-trigger. And vast funds are being budgeted for across-the-board "modernizations".
And as it happens, tensions in Eastern Europe have flared with Russia's annexation of Crimea and President Putin's warning to NATO, more or less, 'You've gone too far- back off'; now both sides are conducting military maneuvers on each other's borders. The destabilization of the post Cold War status quo has provided fuel for the "Second Nuclear Age" constituency, those advocating a deep review of our nuclear doctrine and a re-commitment to our nuclear arsenal, and those eager to give our bombs faster delivery with greater accuracy; and smaller ones too, to give decision makers more 'options', to be more 'usable'.
In a reversal of the Cold War postures in Europe, it is now the US/NATO conventional forces which are superior. And, like our nuclear doctrine during the cold war, Russia's current military doctrine posits the use of nuclear weapons if in danger of losing to superior conventional forces; the doctrine calls for the use of nuclear weapons to de-escalate a conflict- meaning that if locally overpowered by superior NATO/US conventional forces, a nuclear weapon may be used to stop the conflict from going any further. Whether that would be a realistic outcome is obviously open to question.
We've heard a lot about Russia's aggressive behavior toward her neighbors; on the Russian side it's the reverse; see for example this infographic from sputniknews.com titled "NATO exercises and deployments near Russia since 2014"; with the text caption, "NATO has repeatedly blamed Russia for its aggressive behavior, but it looks like the alliance forgot about its own military maneuvers along the Russian border."
Another example: the western press was abuzz with Putin's announcement that 40 new ICBMs would be added to the Russian arsenal, and condemnations of Putin's "threatening behavior" were widespread, while at the same time little attention was paid to the US Air Force proposal to procure 642 new ICBMs to replace the Minuteman III fleet.
"The atmosphere is a feeling that war is not something that's impossible anymore... The perception is that somebody would try to undermine Russia as a country that opposes the United States, and then we will need to defend ourselves by military means."- Fyodor Lukyanov, chief of Russia's most important foreign policy think tank and its most important foreign policy journal, quoted by Max Fisher.
"Lukyanov, pointing to the US and Russian military buildups along Eastern Europe, also worried that an accident or provocation could be misconstrued as a deliberate attack and lead to war.
In the Cold War, he pointed out, both sides had understood this risk and installed political and physical infrastructure- think of the 'emergency red phone'- to manage tensions and prevent them from spiraling out of control. That infrastructure is now gone. 'All those mechanisms were disrupted or eroded... That [infrastructure] has been degraded since the end of the Cold War because the common perception is that we don't need it anymore.'" (ref)
- Note Ahmed Rashid's "Russia: Twenty Feet from War" in the May 14, 2015 New York Review of Books:
"A senior Estonian official explained to me in vivid detail how a Russian Su-27 fighter jet buzzed a US military plane over the Baltic Sea, only veering off after coming within twenty feet of causing a mid-air collision. Such an event could have prompted retaliation by NATO and possibly given Moscow a pretext for invading Estonia..."
- The Guardian, June 24: Nato to review nuclear weapon policy as attitude to Russia hardens "Among potential topics is an enhanced role for nuclear weapons in Nato military exercises."
"In a development that has attracted remarkably little attention, the world has arrived at a perilous crossroads in the effort to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons. Much recent progress stands to be lost in a hazardous wave of brinkmanship and arms races. Before it becomes too late, the United States should design and lead a new campaign to control nuclear risk."- Michael J. Mazarr, senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation writing in Newsweek, July 15, 2015.
On January 19th of this year, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the hands of the Doomsday Clock were advanced to 3 minutes to midnight.
"No-one who saw it could forget it- a foul and awesome display."- Kenneth Bainbridge, Trinity director.
July 16th: 70 Years Ago, the Day That Changed History
July 16, 1945, in the the pre-dawn darkness of the desert of southern New Mexico, suddenly, "the light of a thousand suns". It was the beginning of the Atomic Age.
"The explosion of the bomb had been a success beyond expectation; the energy liberated was clearly near the upper limit, or in excess of our rather dubious predictions. Our satisfaction and pride were great." -Emilio Segré, a physicist present.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, the chief scientist of the Manhattan Project, later said in a 1965 interview,
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed. A few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.... 'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all felt that one way or another."
Similarly, Kenneth Bainbridge, director of the test, would later say:
"After the blast wave had passed, I got up from the ground to congratulate Oppenheimer and others on the success of the implosion method. I finished by saying to Robert: 'Now we are all sons of bitches.'" (ref)
- Trinity Then and Now - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 7/15/2015
- More Trinity history at Atomic Heritage
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Aug 28- Oct 15, California coast: The Golden Rule Sails Again For a Nuclear-Free World Golden Rule, the boat whose crew tried to sail to the Marshall Islands to interfere with atmospheric nuclear testing in 1958, has been lovingly restored by Veterans For Peace and other supporters. She is now in San Diego sailing for a nuclear free world. Golden Rule has a schedule for southern California ports of call - Long Beach, Santa Monica and Marina del Rey events are planned, with Santa Barbara events soon to come. See events schedule
Sept. 2-3 Santa Fe, NM: Meeting: Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB)
These semi-annual meetings of the chairs of the eight local boards rotate through the nuclear weapons sites around the country, this time in Santa Fe, and allow the chairs, the DOE, interested organizations, and citizens an opportunity for public comment and a question and answer session. (more info)
Sept 2: 8:30am-5pm; public comment at 3:15pm
Sept 3: 8:30am-12:30pm; public comment at 11am
La Terraza Room at La Fonda on the Plaza
100 E. San Francisco St., Santa Fe.
For more information, contact David Borak, EM SSAB Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 586-9928 or email@example.com
For an extensive weekly listing of nuclear-related events worldwide, subscribe to the Nuclear Calendar
Nuclear Weapons, Los Alamos and Nonviolence
Panel discussion on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Bud Ryan, Jay Coghlan, Rev. Jim Lawson, Marian Naranjo, and Beata Tsosie-Pena.
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
Are US nuclear weapons engineers really shooting rats off their lunches?
That's what Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said, in a talk at the Atlantic Council on June 23, and he might know, being the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and privy to all manner of top secret information. But he's also a booster for more spending on the nuclear arsenal. So is it true? And if it is, are we talking about guns inside the labs? Who carries the guns? Well, Nukewatch and Peace Farm have filed a Freedom of Information Request to find out.
FOIA request / letter to Rep. Thornberry / press release
The War That Must Never Be Fought
George P. Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State and James Goodby, Former Vice Chairman, U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks; Co-editors of "The War That Must Never Be Fought" at the Commonwealth Club, June 17, 2015. Moderator: Terry Gamble Boyer, Board of Directors, Ploughshares Fund.
A brief, terrifying history of US nuclear mishaps
Eric Schlosser recounts the United States' clumsy history with nuclear weapons. And it's terrifying.
Meet Darlene Keju, "Environmental Godmother" of the Marshall Islands, who revealed the stories of the 67 US nuclear weapons tests at Bikini and Enewetak, and worked tirelessly to protect the safety and health of Marshall Islanders. Keju died of cancer in 1996 but her work goes on. Her husband Giff Johnson published a biography of Keju in 2013 titled "Don't Ever Whisper" Read more about Darlene and the book in our Marshall Islands Dossier
"What is the only provocation that could bring about the use of nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the priority target for nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the only established defense against nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can't get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons. The intransigence, it seems, is a function of the weapons themselves."
"The [MOX] report affirms what Savannah River Site Watch has been saying for over two years: that the mismanaged MOX program needs at least $800 million/year to be viable. Congress is only funding it to the tune of $345 million per year, which means it's on an unofficial shut-down track. Time to officially pull the plug on the MOX boondoggle and end the massive waste of money on the failed project. "
Tom Clements, SRS Watch, Columbia, SC, in a comment on press coverage of the new MOX report.
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"Nuclear disarmament is not just an ardent desire of the people, as expressed in many resolutions of the United Nations. It is a legal commitment by the five official nuclear states, entered into when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
-Nobel Laureate Joseph Rotblat
Our Mission: 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.