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Summer 2014 Citizen's Watch Newsletter

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The Push for a New "Long-Range Stand Off" Weapon

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Facing a 5-year delay with no funds to design an "interoperable warhead" for ICBMs and subs, the nuclear weapons laboratories and other nuclear enthusiasts have begun mobilizing support for yet another horrific and destabilizing new nuke, this time a Long-Range Stand Off weapon, or LRSO. The LRSO concept involves both a new redesigned nuclear warhead and delivery vehicle.

The Cruise Missile: A cruise missile is guided, i.e., self-navigating rather than dropped, highly accurate and able to carry its warhead over long distances at high or supersonic speeds. Further, a cruise missile has an extremely low-altitude trajectory, meaning it flies close to the earth to avoid detection by radar. It is called a standoff weapon because the pilot need not be anywhere near the nuclear blast and it is inherently a surprise or sneak weapon as it is often undetectable in flight.

The new LRSO would replace the AGM-86B air launched cruise missile in the arsenal by 2030. In June, the Air Force released a solicitation for defense contractors to provide their ideas for new approaches to manufacturing the new missile. The Air Force also reported that Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon have all begun "LRSO trade studies."

The Air Force plans to equip its B-2A stealth bomber and its proposed Long-Range Strike Bomber with nuclear capability to carry the new LRSO. The LRSO will also be carried by the already nuclear-capable B-52H.

As we have reported before, the government's apparently never-ending series of proposals to "modernize," i.e., redesign and rebuild, the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile belies any talk of nuclear disarmament or fulfilling U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is the very definition of proliferation-provocative behavior.

The Warhead: There are two warheads being considered for redesign for the new LRSO, the W80-1 and the W84. The W80-1 is fielded on present day air launched cruise missiles. The W84 is from the ground-launched cruise missile, now banned by treaty.

The W84 was placed into "managed retirement" and is being held outside of the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration's dismantlement queue "indefinitely" in case the nuclear weapons labs want to revive it for re-use in a new warhead.

So, unbeknownst to most Americans, the U.S. is keeping "zombie warheads" that have supposedly been retired in deep storage, but ready to be sewn together into new weapons concepts at some future date. And, one of these zombie warheads is now a leading candidate for the LRSO.

Livermore Lab, which designed the W84 and also has responsibility for the W80-1, touted its completion of 30-day and 90-day studies to move the LRSO design concept forward. Its latest "performance evaluation" stated that even though Livermore started this work with no LRSO budget it nonetheless prioritized the studies above other, funded activities.

Sandia Lab called the LRSO "inherently thrilling" because the last time a missile and warhead were concurrently designed and fielded was during the 1980s cold war-era. According to Sandia's magazine, its staff has gone to Washington, DC to "help" decision-makers prioritize the LRSO.

Because the new warhead is in its initial design stages, it is an open question what new military features will be incorporated into this next-generation weapon.

The Funding: The current Defense Dept. cruise missile development is slated to ramp up slowly, beginning with $5 million in the coming year and then growing to more than a billion dollars. According to DoD, their schedule depends on the NNSA and its nuclear weapons labs.

The NNSA weapons labs' redesign and production of a new warhead for the LRSO is estimated to cost about $20 billion. So far this year the Senate Energy & Water subcommittee appropriations bill does not fund design work on the LRSO warhead. However, the FY 2015 budget process remains in flux with no final bill in sight.

On this website, in electronic alerts and in future editions of Citizen's Watch, we will keep you informed about the LRSO. We invite your activism with us to ensure that this new nuclear weapon is stopped so that it does not become tomorrow's nuclear nightmare.

Haz Waste Alert!

by Scott Yundt from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Nuclear weapons development is a dirty business. Thus, significant quantities of hazardous and "mixed" wastes (i.e. radioactive constituents together with hazardous constituents) are produced by Livermore Lab every year. California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has finally reviewed Livermore Lab's Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Application and has begun drafting the permit, which details how the Lab handles, treats and stores its hazardous and mixed wastes.

The Lab's first hazardous waste permit was issued in 1999. Tri-Valley CAREs, and several colleague groups, sued to force DTSC to enhance enforcement and monitoring of the Lab's waste treatment and storage processes.

That permit required renewal after 10 years, but it has taken 15 years for DTSC to coordinate the renewal process because of backlog. In that time, the Lab has opened a new waste treatment facility and has packaged, treated, transported and stored hazardous and mixed waste in new areas of the Lab without an in-depth review.

Public release of the official Draft Permit is still to come. Tri-Valley CAREs has met with the DTSC project manager and has offered initial suggestions.

Once the public process begins, we will update you on how to get involved (i.e. by submitting written comments and attending the public hearing). Together, we will ensure a transparent process that holds the Lab's waste operations to the highest standard of the law.

A Letter from our Executive Director

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Dear Tri-Valley CAREs supporter,

Tri-Valley CAREs builds a strong grassroots movement locally and impacts nuclear weapons policy nationally. Your gift today will help us accomplish both goals!

Tri-Valley CAREs and allied organizations are putting finishing touches on the annual Hiroshima Commemoration and Action at the gates of Livermore Lab. We will stand with the Japanese Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) on August 6 to say "never again." Further, our action will make visible the present day reality of U.S. nuclear weapons and militarism. I ask you to support this action with your presence, if possible, and also with your generous financial contribution.

I am excited to tell you also that we have launched our first-ever Youth Video Contest. This is part of our ongoing initiative to engage the next generation in environmental justice and nuclear disarmament issues and to ensure their voices are heard. Young people are invited to explore what's at stake with nuclear weapons and what clean air, land and water mean to them. All videos will be available on Tri-Valley CAREs' YouTube channel, and we are offering a $500 prize to the winning entrant. I know you understand the importance of involving youth and hope that you will make a tax-deductible donation to enable us to continue our efforts.

Tri-Valley CAREs' board, staff and volunteers will meet on August 23 to construct the community-based strategic plan that will guide our actions in the coming year. We are also planning a daylong meeting at Livermore Lab on the Superfund cleanup of toxic and radioactive contamination there. As your nuclear weapons watchdog we are ever vigilant, and we will keep you informed through our Citizen's Watch, electronic alerts, website, Facebook and more.

Tri-Valley CAREs plays a unique role in challenging nuclear weapons. We operate in "the belly of the beast." As you know, we are from the community surrounding Livermore Lab, where 89% of the budget request is for nuclear development and only 2% for cleanup. Clearly, for all of our many successes, there is work still to be done.

And, with your help, we are pressing forward. Daily, we speak truth to power in this community. Tri-Valley CAREs pierces the veil of secrecy and exposes the lies and mismanagement underneath. We use the information we glean to force changes in Livermore Lab operations. Then, we leverage it and use it nationally.

When Tri-Valley CAREs goes to Congress and the United Nations we bring irrefutable local knowledge about nuclear weapons and the contamination they cause. Consequently, I am happy to report to you that we are heard and are able to create positive change in specific ways that other groups cannot.

I know you understand that your support is essential to our ability to continue doing this work. May I count on your charitable gift today?

Earlier this year Tri-Valley CAREs was successful in cutting the funding to design an "interoperable" warhead, capable of launching nuclear war interchangeably from a silo or a submarine. Working with allies inside and outside of government, we won a 5-year delay for this new weapons program at Livermore Lab, and we aim to make that delay permanent.

However, I must tell you that the nuclear weapons designers are responding with a vile new proposal. Their idea is to develop a new cutting-edge warhead that will then be mated with a new air launched cruise missile. This would allow pilots to "standoff" at a distance and launch nuclear weapons designed to evade radar as they speed toward unsuspecting targets.

Tri-Valley CAREs is stepping up with the research, education, outreach and advocacy necessary to prevent a new "standoff" nuclear warhead from becoming a horrible reality.

I am sure you recognize that, by working together, we can prevail. Tri-Valley CAREs has led successful campaigns against nuclear weapons that Livermore Lab was designing, including the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator and the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead. That these weapons are not household names today is because they were both stopped in the design phase, before they could be built en masse for the stockpile. That's Tri-Valley CAREs in action!

You and I know that our ability to achieve the peace and security of a nuclear weapons free world in the future depends on our ability to stop new nukes now, before they are built. This is the indispensible work that I ask you to join me in supporting today. You can mail a check with the reply card, below, or you can give on-line at www.trivalleycares.org. THANK YOU!

For peace, justice and a healthy environment,

Marylia Kelley

Executive Director

P.S. One of our wonderful 2014 Board Members, Beverly King, has recently passed away after an illness. Her family is asking friends to make a contribution to Tri-Valley CAREs in her honor. Bev was much loved and will be sorely missed. Thank you for any contribution you are able to make.

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Click here to find other ways to donate to Tri-Valley CAREs


Print Bites: All the News that Fits to Print

by Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Bomb Plant Update. More than 30 nuclear watchdog groups, including Tri-Valley CAREs, put the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration on notice that it must prepare a new environmental impact statement before moving ahead with its latest plan for a uranium bomb factory at Y-12 in TN. The NNSA announced earlier this summer that it would follow its "Red Team" recommendations to alter its initial "big box" approach to building a Uranium Processing Facility (UPF). As our longtime readers know, the UPF is intended to produce up to 80 new nuclear weapons "secondaries" (the H-bomb component) each year. While the Red Team report represents a significant victory for UPF opponents, the groups urged the government to go further and "fully investigate the range of possibilities," which could include more floor space for retired warhead dismantlement and less for bomb production. The agency has not yet responded to the groups' letter. We will keep you posted.

MOX Fuel Fight. The White House has threatened to veto a House bill that funds the MOX plant at the Savannah River Site in SC. The Administration's Fiscal Year 2015 budget request put the facility into cold standby. MOX is a scheme to put bomb-surplus plutonium into nuclear fuel rods for commercial power plants. The MOX plant has no customers who want it and would cost taxpayers $30 billion to build and operate. The White House veto threat was contained in a Statement of Administration Policy. Meanwhile, the appropriations process moves from the Republican-led House to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where lawmakers are also poised to add money for MOX. Stay tuned!

Bomb Blasted. The Defense Dept. announced it is on schedule to finish its first major technical review of Boeing Corps. tailkit design for the new B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) later this month (i.e., July). The tailkit is reported to cost DoD $1.4 billion in order to give the nuclear bomb greater accuracy. The NNSA cost to design and produce the bomb, to which the tailkit will be appended, is $10 billion. This new air dropped gravity bomb is intended to keep NATO nuclear armed, an issue we have long covered. This month, the Stimson Center weighed in with their analysis, "Bombs Away: The Case for Phasing Out U.S.Tactical Nukes in Europe." We will continue to oppose the B61-12, and welcome new alliances.

Lab Review. A nine-member "Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories" was established by Congress earlier this year. While the law falls short of creating a formal process to close or transition facilities similar to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) used to shutter or realign excess Defense Dept. sites, its language enables important steps in that direction. We support a BRAC-like process for DOE and its nuclear weapons labs in particular, and we will press the new Commission to take full advantage of the broad scope of its authority to recommend management, mission and structural changes for the national labs, especially Livermore! The new Commission will officially "stand up" in July 2014, meaning that it will begin operating. But here is the question: will it ultimately "stand up," as in "...and be counted"? For more about the Commission's membership and charter, click here for more.

Rocking DC. Tri-Valley CAREs' team (pictured below, L to R: Marylia Kelley, Scott Yundt and Gail Rieger) joined dozens of activists this spring in Washington, DC. We conducted nearly 100 meetings with Obama Administration officials and Congress. We also contributed to a new Alliance for Nuclear Accountability report, "Billion Dollar Boondoggles: Challenging the National Nuclear Security Administration's Plan to Spend More Money for Less Security." The report details wasteful and dangerous projects including the UPF, B61 and MOX. It urges Congress to cut the National Ignition Facility, make permanent the 5-year delay to the Interoperable Warhead, and much more. Read all about it here.

2014 Youth Video Contest

Click here to learn all about our 2014 Youth Video Contest


Alerts 4 U

from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, August 7

Letter to the Editor writing party
5:30 PM, Tri-Valley CAREs office
2582 Old First St., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details

Come and write a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper in a friendly and supportive environment. Our suggested topic will be the nuclear weapons budget. We will offer a short briefing and handouts to get you started. Or, you may choose to write on a different topic. Snacks and refreshments served. Also, save the date for the Thursday, September 4th Letter to the Editor Writing Party.

Thursday, August 21

Tri-Valley CAREs meeting
7:30 PM - 9 PM, Livermore Library
Community Room A
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

We will report out on the August Action, preview the upcoming Strategic Planning Retreat, discuss the Lab's Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal and more! It will be a fun and information packed meeting. See you there.

Saturday, August 23rd

Strategic Planning Retreat
9:45AM to 4:30PM. Bring something to share for a potluck lunch.
United Christian Church, 1886 College Ave., Livermore
RSVP is required - Space is Limited
Call or email us to reserve your place
Contact: marylia@trivalleycares.org, or (925) 443-7148

Who Should Participate: If you are a Tri-Valley CAREs member, supporter, volunteer, staff or board member, the answer is "you." If you want to give peace a strategy - and work with us to carry it out - we welcome your participation.

What Do You Need To Do? First, RSVP. We will send you a packet with guidance on how to do strategic planning, the day's agenda, and other relevant information.

Special Tri-Valley CAREs meeting: Nuclear Waste Cleanup
7:00 PM - 9 PM, Livermore Library
Community Room A
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

We will hear from environmental scientist Peter Strauss and other experts regarding the Superfund cleanup of toxic and radioactive contamination at Livermore Lab. We will also craft an action plan to ensure the community has a voice in decisions. Come to learn - and let your voice be heard! Call for details.

Aug. 6 - Hiroshima Action @ Livermore Lab

by Scott Yundt from Tri-Valley CAREs' Summer 2014 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Sixty-nine years ago, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will gather this year at Livermore Lab on Aug. 6 at 7:30 AM to remember those actions and to demand progress toward nuclear disarmament.

The program for our event will center on the theme, "Failure to Disarm: Holding Our Government Accountable." It will touch on the continuing dangers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant meltdowns, the continuing development of nuclear weapons at Livermore Lab and the U.S. military build up in Asia.

Our keynote speaker, Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, will speak about the Nuclear Zero lawsuits brought by the tiny but courageous Republic of the Marshall Islands. Marshall Islanders know all too well the devastating effect of living in a nuclear age.

From 1946 to 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands. Their explosive power was estimated to be 1,000 times greater than the bombs that crippled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Still plagued by the health and environmental effects, this past spring the Marshall Islanders sought relief in the International Court of Justice, suing the nine nuclear powers for their failure to comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, known as the NPT. With the assistance of Rick Wayman and others, the Marshall Islands have also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against the United States for breach of treaty and flagrant violations of international law. The Marshallese seek global nuclear disarmament, not compensation, so that we may all enjoy the security of living in a non-nuclear environment.

At 8:30AM, there will be a call to action and a short march from the corner of Patterson Pass Rd. and Vasco Rd. (where the rally takes place) to Livermore Lab's West Gate where those who choose will peaceably risk arrest. Others will provide supportive witness. Traditional Japanese dance will be performed.

The program will also include amazing music from Daniel Zwickel and world music ensemble Duamuxa. Coffee and snacks will be available.

This event is sponsored by dozens of groups, including Tri-Valley CAREs. We believe that public involvement at this historic time, at the gates of one of the two principal U.S. nuclear weapons design labs, can concretely move us closer to the more truly secure, environmentally friendly, just and peaceful world we seek.

A flier is enclosed, and more information is available here. We hope to see you there!