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Citizens Watch Newsletter February-March, 2005

Tri-Valley CAREs at the BWC

by Loulena Miles
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs' staff attorney, Loulena Miles, recently traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to address the Meeting of States Parties of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

Miles sought to highlight the recent U.S. action to collocate nuclear weapons research and biological warfare agent research inside the nation's classified nuclear weapons labs at Livermore and Los Alamos. Our group's goal was to increase pressure on the U.S. to reverse these plans. There was a high level of interest in this topic among the diplomats, and many countries' secretaries and ambassadors personally thanked Miles and Tri-Valley CAREs for appearing and elevating this important issue.

The 1975 BWC, with 153 member states, bans the development, production, and stockpiling of biological agents. In July 2001, one state party to the treaty, the U.S., indicated that it was unable to support a proposed protocol that would have given the treaty the investigation and inspection powers necessary for enforcement. This has resulted in a deadlock on attempts to draft binding measures. However, the states resolved to meet each year to discuss ideas about how to increase the effectiveness of the BWC.

Miles spoke at a special session in which non-governmental organizations were invited to address all the countries that are party to the BWC. She addressed her comments directly to the nuclear weapons states, calling upon them to geographically separate advanced biodefense research from classified nuclear weapons research as a confidence building measure. These measures are guarantees offered by states parties to show their commitment to an international agreement.

Tri-Valley CAREs is concerned that nuclear weapons states will not agree to allow full international inspection of biological facilities if they are sited at nuclear weapons labs, thereby reducing the BWC to a crippled, only partially enforceable treaty. We believe the nuclear weapons states should proactively act to safeguard the treaty by agreeing to keep all advanced biodefense research separate from classified nuclear weapons activities.

The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) approved construction of a Bio-safety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility at Livermore Lab in December of 2002. Tri-Valley CAREs and Nuclear Watch of New Mexico have filed a lawsuit to prevent the facility from operating without a thorough environmental and nonproliferation review.

Livermore Lab claims this BSL-3 is needed to enable development of critical biodetectors for the nation's security and that BSL-3 labs are commonly found throughout the country at universities and hospitals.

However, this is not just any BSL-3, and the work will not be limited to biodetectors. Unlike many BSL-3 labs, the facility at Livermore will focus its research on agents that have historically been associated with biowarfare programs, including live anthrax, plague and dozens of other potentially deadly pathogens.

According to publicly available records, Livermore Lab scientists will be experimenting on up to 100 liters of bioagents at a time. There will be about 40 shipments of dangerous biological agents in and out of Livermore every month. Experiments at this BSL-3 facility will include genetically modifying some of the most dangerous agents known and spraying them on small animals in batches of 8 dozen at a time.

The amounts and types of activities planned for the Livermore Lab BSL-3 suggest that, if allowed to operate, it would soon push up against the fine line separating civilian from military biological research. For example, experiments involving genetic modification and aerosolizing or spraying biowarfare agents are considered inherently "dual purpose." And, because most other research at Livermore Lab involves highly-secret nuclear weapons development, conducting these biological experiments at Livermore Lab could end up undermining, if not outright violating, the BWC.

Tri-Valley CAREs is heavily critical of collocating nuclear and biological research in part because of the highly secretive culture of the DOE and the Department of Homeland Security, which is slated to operate the Livermore Lab BSL-3.

"We want to ensure that a new biowarfare agent program is not put into place at a DOE nuclear weapons lab -- without the benefit of public debate within the U.S. and throughout the international community about the wisdom of collocating this research and nuclear weapons," Miles told the Meeting of States Parties to the BWC.

These are extremely provocative activities. Dr. Susan Wright, Research Scientist at the University of Michigan, stated, "The likely result in the longer term is a biological defense arms race that will ultimately undermine the BWC, the principle legal barrier to development and production of biological weapons."

In Geneva, Miles also offered a lunchtime presentation with Ed Hammond, the director of the Sunshine Project, on the recent extraordinary expansion of all facets of biodefense research inside the U.S. The response was encouraging. Diplomats from at least twenty different countries greeted Miles warmly after her remarks and said they had been previously unaware of the U.S. plan to collocate advanced biodefense and nuclear weapons facilities.

After being approached and thanked by so many countries, it became clear that our organization's presence at the BWC conference was valuable and well worth all of the time and effort that went into it.

Safety Problems Shut Down Lab Plutonium Bldg.

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Operations in Livermore Lab's plutonium facility have been placed on indefinite "standby" due to severe safety problems. Investigators found taped-up cracks in the ventilation system, substandard gloveboxes (also called "hot boxes") and inadequately assessed fire protection, among other deficiencies.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board's (DNFSB) weekly reports on the shutdown cite numerous violations, including defects in the plutonium facility's equipment, safety management and radiation protection. According to DNFSB, the Lab's safety problems are systemic, and many of them are long-standing. On Jan. 6, the Dept. of Energy (DOE) Headquarters issued its review of the Livermore Lab plutonium facility. The report lists 24 serious, unresolved problems.

In 2003, a dozen employees were potentially exposed to plutonium that leaked from a faulty glovebox. Management knew the glovebox had a defective seal, but had decided to use it anyway. After the plutonium leaked into the room, the radiation alarm failed to go off. When an alarm positioned outside in the hallway did sound, it was dismissed as an aberration and employees entered the contaminated room.

In 1998, the facility was found to have plutonium stored in a work station over the mass limit permitted by criticality safety rules. A criticality is a runaway nuclear chain reaction. This violation occurred while Livermore Lab was restarting operations in the plutonium facility. It had been shut down at the behest of the DNFSB in 1997. The reason? Twenty-five criticality safety violations. The Lab's plutonium operations were also terminated in 1995 -- due to the lack of procedures to ensure the facility's ventilation system, accident alarms and fire suppression systems (does anyone see a pattern here?).

Livermore Lab is authorized to house 1,540 pounds of plutonium. The draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement proposes to more than double plutonium storage to 3,300 pounds. Tri-Valley CAREs says, "eliminate the Lab's plutonium inventory - not double it." There is no better time to de-inventory the plutonium than now.

To send a letter to DOE:

Watchdogs to Bid for Bomb Lab

Bob Schaeffer and Tara Dorabji
from Tri-Valley CAREs' February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

On January 20, 2005, Tri-Valley CAREs announced its partnership with a New Mexico non-profit to prepare a bid to manage the troubled Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which is currently managed by the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

During a news conference, held at the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco, Tri-Valley CAREs announced that it will partner with the Santa Fe-based Nuclear Watch of New Mexico to bid for the management contract.

"Our bid to run Los Alamos will demonstrate how laboratory managers can work with community members and employees to safeguard public health and clean up the environmental mess caused by nuclear weapons development," explained Tara Dorabji, Outreach Director for Tri-Valley CAREs, which monitors the Livermore Lab.

"UC has left contamination stemming from leaks, spills and accidents at Los Alamos. We will show that the manager's role should be to clean up, not cover up," Dorabji added.

"By joining forces with Nuclear Watch and preparing a bid, we believe we will be in an excellent position to influence the entire process," said Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs' Executive Director.

The non-profit partners' goals include influencing the LANL contract in several, important ways. "We seek to ensure that the new management contract will increase openness, improve health and safety provisions for workers and communities, strengthen whistleblower protections, and provide incentive points for bringing more civilian science to LANL," Kelley explained.

Moreover, the watchdog partnership's bid will emphasize U.S. disarmament obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. For example, the groups' management proposal will include the establishment of an office of treaty conformance. This new office will undertake a detailed, annual audit of LANL's activities and report any that may run afoul of the NPT or other treaties to which the U.S. is signatory. The two groups will also challenge other bidders to incorporate similar provisions.

Josh Kearns, a graduate student in environmental science at UC Berkeley, explained why he supports the bid, "Current weapons projects at LANL are contrary to the UC's mission to provide a public service. Moreover, they undermine the University's reputation."

"Under the 'watchdog' consortium's direction, LANL's research will focus on projects to reduce the damage from climate change, develop sustainable alternative energy sources, and protect the public from LANL's contaminated soil, water and air," Kearns continued.

UC has managed Los Alamos for the DOE and predecessor agencies since its creation in 1943. After repeated security and fiscal management scandals, DOE decided in April 2003 to open competition for the Los Alamos contract for the first time. UC's current contract expires on September 30, 2005.

The University is expected to bid to continue its management role, though it has yet to make a formal decision.

UC Berkeley physicist, Professor Emeritus Charlie Schwartz endorsed the two watchdog groups' bid: "UC's role has been to provide a cloak of academic respectability to the development of weapons of mass destruction."

"Recently, government officials have found UC's management skills to be inadequate and sought competing proposals. The idea of converting the weapons lab to a center for constructive civilian research makes great sense, and it should appeal to many of those who now work at the Los Alamos bomb factory," Schwartz said.

Our comments on DOE's draft Request for Proposals can be found at

Ongoing Saga of Bio-Lab Accidents "That Don't Exist"

by Inga Olson, from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Here, in your Citizen's Watch newsletter, we have documented numerous accidents with dangerous biological agents in advanced biosafety labs over the last couple of years. Taken together, these cases show that it is indeed possible for live anthrax and other bioagents to infect workers and escape into the environment.

These incidents highlight problems with implementing biosafety standards, even in high-tech countries and at prestigious U.S. universities. Lab directors who say accidents in high-containment Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 and 4 facilities are virtually unknown, fail to list even publicly-known accidents. Further, they fail to mention that there are no comprehensive, mandatory reporting requirements for lab accidents in high containment facilities. Thus, it is likely that many accidents go unreported.

Here is some of what we do know. A researcher in 2003 at one of the three BSL-3 labs in Singapore contracted SARS while unknowingly working on a cross-contaminated sample. Then, there was another accident at the National Defense University in Taipei --Taiwan's only BSL-4 facility. A medical researcher there contracted SARS in the lab on Dec. 5, 2003, flew to a medical conference in Singapore, returned Dec. 10 and eventually entered a hospital on Dec. 16 where the SARS was diagnosed.

At UC Berkeley, the genetic-modification of tuberculosis accidentally created a novel, virulent form that appears to undermine the body's own immune response. Fortunately, there was no accidental release with this agent. In May 2004, a researcher died at Russia's top bio-lab after contracting the Ebola virus. Another Ebola researcher, this time at the U.S. bio-agent facility at Fort Detrick, MD, stuck herself while working with mice and Ebola. Fortunately, she did not die.

Then, we learned that anthrax leaked at the BSL-3 at Ft. Detrick, MD. Two scientists were placed on ciprofloxacinone for 30 days. Seven linen collectors and one additional worker were also treated with antibiotics. Anthrax was found outside of the containment lab in three different places: the "clean" change room, an office and on the passbox -- an ultraviolet lighted square-area used for "safely" passing potentially contaminated material into and out of the lab suite. More than 200 colonies of Ames strain were found on the passbox. The official report cited a cavalier attitude toward safety among some personnel and multiple, serious safety deficiencies that had been blatantly ignored.

In addition to Ames strain (the strain found in the anthrax-laced letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle in 2001), Vollum 1B anthrax was also leaked at the Ft. Detrick complex. The "B" in the name is from the late Ft. Detrick microbiologist William Boyle, whose blood was used to grow the strain after he died in a 1951 lab accident.

And, what about the supposedly dead anthrax sent via Fed-Ex to the Children's Hospital lab in Oakland in 2004? It turned out to be live Ames strain and seven employees were treated with antibiotics. There is virtually no regulation of inactivated or supposedly "dead" anthrax in this country.

Here's the latest news. In 2004, at the Boston University Medical Center, three BSL-2 lab workers contracted a rare disease called tularemia. Two of the workers were hospitalized. The lab infections were not made public until 2005, after the center won approval to build a new, maximum containment biodefense lab. Now, "New Scientist" is reporting that this is not the first time workers at the Boston lab were accidentally exposed to tularemia. In 2000, a dozen people were exposed to samples from a patient who caught the disease from a wild rabbit and died.

About $14.5 billion has been spent in the U.S. on biodefense since 2001. This rapid expansion in work with dangerous pathogens is neither adequately regulated nor scientifically justified. These advanced biowarfare agent labs are posing a definite risk to the public, and they are siphoning off funds from other, badly-needed medical and public health research and facilities.

We do not want the deaths of workers at Livermore Lab's proposed, new BSL-3, or deaths of their family members or community residents, to be the impetus that finally causes a prudent look at the rash biodefense building boom in America. For this reason, Tri-Valley CAREs, in collaboration with groups across the U.S., has called for a moratorium on building, upgrading and operating new biodefense facilities until a national assessment has been conducted to determine how many, if any, new facilities are actually needed.

We also continue our lawsuit to force Livermore Lab to conduct a thorough and complete Environmental Impact Statement before moving forward with an advanced bio-warfare research lab, which would be the first to be collocated in a Dept. of Energy nuclear weapons facility (see also article on p. 1).

Presenting your 2005 Tri-Valley CAREs Board of Directors

from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Martha Priebat, Pleasanton - President
Janis Turner, Livermore - Treasurer
Will Easton, San Francisco - Secretary
Bob Sarvey, Tracy
Don King, Livermore
Fran Macy, Berkeley
Ena Aguirre, Stockton
Mary Perner, Livermore
Scott Yundt, Berkeley
Marylia Kelley, Livermore

Heartfelt thanks to Board Members leaving after their 2004 terms -- Paul Carroll, Mill Valley & Jon Hart, Livermore

Citizen's Alerts

from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Please see our online calendar for all of our upcoming events!


You are invited to a Community Gathering and Discussion with prominent peace activists from Japan and India

DATE: Tuesday, April 5, 2005

WHERE: United Christian Church, 1886 College Avenue, Livermore

TIME: Dinner and conversation from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm; PRESENTATIONS from 7:30 - 9:00 pm

SHARE A MEAL You are invited to join us for a community meal on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 between 6:30 - 7:30 pm. Please bring a plate to share.

Admiral Ramu L. Ramdas is the former Admiral of India's Navy and has extensive first hand knowledge and insight regarding the history of India-Pakistan relations and the complications introduced by U.S. military presence.

Lalita Ramdas is an accomplished educator and advocate for women's rights in India. She now spends her time building an international movement for peace, disarmament and human rights.

Japanese survivors of the atomic bombing will also be speaking about their efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.

Potluck 6:30 - 7:30 pm From 7:30 - 9:00 pm you will have an opportunity to listen to leading activists and discuss issues with them. After dinner, presentations will be made by Admiral and Lalita Ramdas and Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima bombing.

For more information contact:
Tri-Valley CAREs
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA 94551
Phone: 925-443-7148

Peace & Justice News ... Abolition Now! Needs You

by Tara Dorabji
from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the formation of the United Nations. On August 6 and 9, 2005, it will be 60 years also since the U.S. atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The birth of the UN represented the possibilities of cultural understanding and of resolving political conflict through negotiation and diplomacy. The unleashing of the atomic bomb on civilian populations revealed an unprecedented destruction of life by a technology of terror and a loss of our common humanity.

Today, the UN and the global community are at a crossroads - will the rule of law or the physics of brute force propel our governments? People around the globe are now collaborating on a grassroots campaign to support international treaties and abolish nuclear weapons. The Abolition Now! Campaign was created to provide a tool for global citizens to halt the destructive "chain reaction" of militarism, aggression and rule by force that has permeated our world. We act to affirm peace and our humanity.

The Abolition Now! Campaign is global in scope, but has a role for each of us to play locally. The three main pillars of the campaign are:

  • Organizing a major rally for global nuclear disarmament on May 1st in New York City, on the eve of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the UN, co-sponsored by Abolition 2000 and United for Peace and Justice;

  • Enrolling mayors across the country and the world in the Mayors' Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons; and

  • Holding a day of large-scale, nationally-coordinated actions in August to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and say no to nuclear weapons and war.

  • One of the focal points of the Abolition Now! Campaign will be the May 1st nuclear disarmament rally in New York City. Delegates from countries around the world will meet at the UN in New York at that time to discuss the fate of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. A key question will be whether the nuclear weapons states are in substantial compliance with their obligation under the treaty's Article VI to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

    The U.S. continues to advance and upgrade its stockpile of nuclear weapons, thumbing its nose at its NPT disarmament commitment. This may severely weaken the NPT and further unravel its already-fraying nonproliferation regime, to the detriment of the U.S. and the world.

    Dr. El Baradei, the Director General of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, put the issue of full compliance by the nuclear weapons states succinctly during a recent speech at Stanford University. "In the near future, we will either have true disarmament or have a plethora of new nuclear weapons states," he said.

    Many non-governmental organizations will also attend the NPT Review Conference. Tri-Valley CAREs will have several staff and members there to promote disarmament and provide a technical analysis of nuclear weapons programs at Livermore Lab.

    You can join with the global majority on May 1st in New York, and demand that the U.S. start leading the world to nuclear abolition and stop ruling through unrestrained aggression and violence. Call Gayle Cuddy or Tara Dorabji at the Tri-Valley CAREs office, (925) 443-7148, to discuss either participating in New York or holding a local solidarity event on May 1.

    The Abolition Now! Campaign is also supporting Mayors for Peace and the emergency campaign. This effort is spearheaded internationally by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The goal? To enroll Mayors around the world in the struggle to end the threat of nuclear weapons and war. More than 680 Mayors have joined so far.

    The Mayors are publicly calling for nuclear abolition and also organizing educational activities in their cities. In addition, Mayors are invited to participate in the NPT Review Conference and support actions on August 6 and 9. This campaign calls on citizens to approach the Mayor in their local community. To find out how you can help, see, or call Jackie Cabasso at Western States Legal Foundation, (510) 839-5877.

    The Abolition Now! Campaign will culminate in large-scale demonstrations this August to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. Tri-Valley CAREs and colleague groups across the U.S. have already begun the planning necessary to hold a national day of action on Saturday, August 6, 2005.

    There will be major actions at the Dept. of Energy's active nuclear weapons facilities, including the Nevada Test Site, the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico and the Livermore nuclear weapons Lab here in the Bay Area.

    In Livermore, we will gather at one of the world's primary locations for nuclear weapons development and plant real "Seeds of Change." The Livermore rally and march will include music, art and banner making, inspirational speakers, children's activities, and more.

    For the Livermore march and rally, volunteers are needed to help out with publicity, logistics, art, flyers, language translation, and a host of other important, yet enjoyable, tasks. Call Tara at our office to find out how to "plug in" your talents and energy to create postive change in the world.

    Peace Gathering

    by Gayle Cuddy
    from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

    To honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tri-Valley CAREs sponsored a gathering and march in Livermore on the occasion of his birthday last month. It was a truly inspirational event, organized by Tara Dorabji, Gayle Cuddy and Nora McKelvey, among others.

    Reverend Marty Williams of the United Christian Church in Livermore offered their lovely space, which was beautifully decorated with lighted candles. More than 60 people came. As we gathered, Judith Flanagan, a postdoc at UC Berkeley and our biodefense advisor, displayed her musical side and set the tone by playing her recorder.

    Marty and Tara gave the welcome. We listened to Dr. King's moving "I have a dream" speech. Some in attendance had been present in Washington, DC on that historic day in 1963, others had yet to be born.

    Linda Culpepper conducted a guided visualization for peace, after which each participant had a chance to share his or her own dream. Our dreams reflected our desires to heal the discrimination, poverty, violence and militarism that ravage our world. Our dreams spoke of our myriad hopes to create a more just and peaceful future. Some of our dreams spoke directly to changing present-day Washington, DC. Our dreams blended with Dr. King's, and brought to each of us a fresh realization of the distance we have come since that speech was first delivered - and how far we have yet to travel.

    Thad Binkley and Phyllis Jardine led the singing of "We Shall Overcome," participants made signs proclaiming their dreams, and then we marched to Lizzie Fountain in Downtown Livermore. The legacy of Dr. King was thus carried by each of us into the present and future.

    The day was sunny and peaceful, as were many of our thoughts and feelings that morning, proclaiming our belief that nonviolent communication is the best way to bring about change in our world.

    At the fountain, we held signs as passersby honked in solidarity. Marylia Kelley read passages from several of Dr. King's speeches and sermons.

    We closed with music, and we took home a renewed commitment to work for peace and justice -- in our lives and in the larger world around us.

    Calif. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, 25 Members of Congress Tell Bush to Bring the Troops Home

    Adapted from Rep. Lynn Woolsey's news release
    as reprinted in the February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

    Recently, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma), led 25 members of Congress in introducing a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives calling on President Bush to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

    "We got ourselves into this mess," said Rep. Woolsey. "Now it's time to support American troops by bringing them home."

    Woolsey further stated: "American soldiers and Iraqi civilians continue to die in staggering numbers... In fact, the presence of nearly 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq is a rallying point for anti-American sentiment in the Arab world..."

    "We should not abandon Iraq; there is still a critical role for the United States in providing the development aid that can help create a civil society, support education and rebuild Iraq's economic infrastructure," Woolsey said. "But the military option is clearly not working."

    The resolution calls on the President to:

    1. Develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq;

    2. Develop and implement a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq's civil and economic infrastructure;

    3. Convene an emergency meeting of Iraq's leadership, Iraq's neighbors, the United Nations, and the Arab League to create an international peacekeeping force in Iraq and to replace U.S. military forces with Iraqi police and National Guard forces to ensure Iraq's security; and

    4. Take all necessary steps to provide the Iraqi people the opportunity to completely control their internal affairs.

    The following are the original co-sponsors of Rep. Woolsey's resolution: Reps. Xavier Becerra, John Conyers, Danny Davis, Lane Evans, Sam Farr, Raul Grijalva, Maurice Hinchey, Mike Honda, Dennis Kucinich, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Jim McDermott, Cynthia McKinney, Gwen Moore, Grace Napolitano, Major Owens, Ed Pastor, Charlie Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, and Carolyn Kilpatrick.

    Rolling Away the Stone of Empire

    by Carolyn Scarr
    from February/March 2005 Citizen's Watchn newsletter

    Good Friday Witness at the gates of Livermore Lab
    March 25, 2005, gather at 6:45 AM
    Vasco Road & Patterson Pass Road, Livermore

    The story of Good Friday is one of the torture and murder of the leader of a nonviolent movement challenging empire and working for a just social order. This story is re-lived in many other struggles around the world and through the centuries.

    This year the principal speaker at the Good Friday Witness will be Ched Myers. A member of the Pacific Life Community and Bartimaeus Community, Ched Myers has been active in the Bay Area in the anti-nuclear and anti-war movement. He is a widely-read biblical scholar, bringing to greater awareness Jesus' prophetic call for justice. Ched currently works with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in Los Angeles.

    Livermore Lab continues to develop new and modified nuclear weapons for use in the open-ended "war on terror." Livermore is redesigning its B83 nuclear bomb to create a "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator." It can reasonably be said that Livermore is engaged in developing the new crosses for the expanding U.S. empire.

    The Good Friday Witness in Livermore commences with singing, spoken messages, and prayer, followed by a walk of about 1/2 mile to a major Livermore lab gate, where nonviolent acts of witness will take place. Following the action, there will be a community gathering in Livermore at Marylia Kelley's Rec Room. This will offer an opportunity to share our concerns and activities, and to get a chance to talk with Ched Myers. Light refreshments will be served.

    The event is organized by Ecumenical Peace Institute and Livermore Conversion Project. For information, leave a message at 510-548-4141, or check EPI's website,

    Act Now to Cut Funds for Nuclear Weapons

    by Jim Bridgman
    from February/March 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

    The Dept. of Energy (DOE) Fiscal Year 2006 budget request includes more money for nuclear weapons and less money for cleaning up the environmental mess caused by nuclear weapons development. It had been thought that the ballooning federal deficit would force cuts to both programs. However, when the budget request was transmitted to Congress on Feb. 7, it contained $9.39 billion for the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a $233 million increase. Environmental cleanup takes the hit. The environmental request slips to $6 billion, a $556 million decrease that is offset only slightly by the $174 million going to NNSA as it assumes responsibility for cleanup at Livermore Lab and several other facilities beginning in 2006.

    Here are a few of the specific nuclear weapons projects in the budget request. The DOE's NNSA budget includes $4 million in 2006 to continue research on the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator" (RNEP) bomb. In addition, there is another $4.5 million in the Air Force budget to begin "drop testing" this new bomb to determine its penetration capability (without its nuclear "package," of course). Tri-Valley CAREs and other groups across the country worked with Congress to zero out the RNEP funding for 2005. Many of you reading this newsletter took part in that campaign. Well, it's time to redouble our efforts and cut its funds again.

    The budget request includes $9.3 million for a "Reliable Replacement Warhead," a successor to the Advanced Concepts Initiative. This is one more project to keep nuclear weapons designers busy. Instead, all activities to redesign U.S. nuclear weapons should cease. Our nation's attention should turn to our legal obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to eliminate our nuclear arsenal.

    The request contains $7.68 million for the Modern Pit Facility, a new production plant to make bomb cores. Congress cut this facility substantially in 2005, and it will be important to cut it again for 2006.

    In addition to these specific programs, the DOE's NNSA budget request contains billions for other upgrades to nuclear weapons designs, the National Ignition Facility, enhancing our "readiness" to conduct a full-scale nuclear test - and more. The Bush Administration wants new and modified nuclear bombs, the ultimate terror weapon, for use in the open-ended "war on terror."

    Call, write or fax your Senators and Representative now. The switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Or, call our office if you need.

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