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Report Back From "DC Days"

By Loulena Miles
from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Tri-Valley CAREs sent twelve of its members into the halls of power in our nation?s capital to rouse Congress and the Bush Administration to stop new nuclear weapons and clean up the toxic legacy of the Nuclear Age. We joined forces with other member groups of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. Together, we brought nearly 100 people who live around Dept. of Energy (DOE) nuclear sites to Washington, DC.

Our efforts focused on cutting new weapons like the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator at Livermore Lab, stopping the DOE from shortening the time it would require to conduct a full-scale nuclear test in Nevada, and terminating the Modern Pit Facility for plutonium bomb cores. Further, we sought to forestall a DOE scheme to put the folks that develop nuclear weapons in charge of cleaning up contamination from past weapons activities at several major sites, including Livermore.

Following our visit, a key Congressional committee trimmed a few of the proliferation-provocative projects in the nuclear weapons budget -- and zeroed out all funding for the nuclear earth penetrator and the new pit facility. It also appears that Congress is skeptical of handing the cleanup funds over to the bomb makers. (However, other committees have yet to act and they could put money back into nuclear weapons programs. Hence, calls and letters to Congress in the coming weeks are still very needed.)

Team member and UC Berkeley student Chelsea Collogne noted that while experienced activists "...knew all the processes, the lingo, the insider information, [they] were still holding fast to their principles and vision."

New member and mom Stacy Williams concluded: "This trip made me feel like I still have a voice."

DC Days 2005 has proven itself to be a big success. People from across the nation commented on how well prepared, knowledgeable and professional the Tri-Valley CAREs team was. If you are interested in participating next year, let us know.


Returning From the UN

By Inga Olson
from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Tri-Valley CAREs team arrived in New York on May 1 to march through Central Park calling upon the nuclear weapons states to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and speed their work toward the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Following the march, Tri-Valley CAREs delegation of eight members, staff and technical experts attended the 2005 Review Conference for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Our work at the UN highlighted a central tenet of the NPT, the Treaty?s Article VI, which reads: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

We contrasted the current U.S. nuclear weapons program with our nation?s disarmament obligation, and offered diplomats a "hot off the press" analysis of the Dept. of Energy (DOE) budget request for nuclear weapons. The report, "America?s One-Nation Arms Race," was in great demand and more than 400 copies were distributed during the first week of the month-long conference. Many Ambassadors and delegates, including those from countries that are traditional U.S. allies, told us the report was extremely useful because it identified programs and funding that contradict the Bush Administration?s rhetoric about its compliance with the NPT.

Dr. Robert Civiak, the report?s author, participated in a number of key meetings. Dr. Civiak is retired from the White House Office of Management and Budget where he was Budget Examiner for the DOE nuclear weapons program. UN Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers and various countries? technical experts were pleased to meet our team and have their questions answered about U.S. nuclear weapons. Some were visibly shocked to learn about the programs at Livermore Lab.

In addition to detailing the budget, our report offered a practical, NPT-compliant, "Curatorship" approach to maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal as it awaits dismantlement. To that end, Tri-Valley CAREs called on all nuclear weapons states ? not just the U.S. ? to forego any further development of nuclear weapons as part of demonstrating their compliance with Article VI.

The "Curatorship" approach strictly limits a country?s tinkering with its arsenal to the replacement of aging components with remanufactured copies of the same design ? thereby explicitly not upgrading the warfighting capability of the weapons. This stands in marked contrast to the U.S. "Stockpile Stewardship" program, which seeks to upgrade every nuclear weapon type in the arsenal.

The U.S. currently points to its very limited disarmament efforts as evidence of its resolve to comply with the NPT, mostly relying on the Moscow Treaty. However, most of these "disarmament" actions only weed out certain obsolete weapons designs, for the most part without actually dismantling them, while upgrading and modernizing what the U.S. calls its "enduring arsenal" ? something we believe is not good faith compliance with the NPT. Further, the Moscow Treaty lacks verification or enforcement measures.

The Bush Administration nuclear posture moves this newly-upgraded nuclear arsenal toward use in actual war fighting scenarios, rather than as a deterrent to be considered as a last resort. U.S. nuclear weapons policy aligns coyly with a popular phrase from modern business practices: "use the right tool for the job." And, says the U.S. nuclear posture, if the right tool is a nuclear weapon so be it. The 1,000 Japanese present, including Hibakusha (survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), made it abundantly clear that no nuclear weapon is ever the "right weapon."

Despite the efforts of non-governmental groups and many countries, the Review Conference is ending without a consensus document or recommendations for strengthening compliance with the NPT.

Most participants place the blame squarely with the Bush Administration, which came to the UN unwilling to reaffirm the commitments the U.S. made in 2000 -- at the last NPT Review Conference -- let alone move forward. Sadly, this leaves the whole world less secure.


Print Bites: All the News That Fits to Print

By Tara Dorabji and Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' June 2005 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Managing Armageddon. The race to prepare a bid to manage the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico is nearing the finish line. Bids are due July 19, and the DOE plans to award the contract before the end of the year. In its final Request for Proposals, DOE asked that bidders demonstrate they are ready to conduct a major nuclear weapons manufacturing campaign. Here is how the field lines up. The Incumbent: The University of California (UC) has partnered with Bechtel Corporation in its attempt to hold on to the Los Alamos Lab contract. The bid will be a fifty-fifty power share between UC and Bechtel, a major engineering corporation with contracts at numerous DOE weapons sites including the Nevada Test Site, Hanford and Savannah River. Bechtel is also infamous for its contracts to rebuild Iraq and its moves to privatize the Earth?s water. The UC-Bechtel consortium will also include BWX Technologies and Washington Group International. The current director of Livermore Lab, Michael Anastasio, will move over to become the new Los Alamos director if this team wins the contract. The Challenger: Lockheed Martin has partnered with the University of Texas to bid for the Los Alamos contract. The director of the DOE?s Sandia Lab, Paul Robinson, has stepped down from that post to lead this team. If this consortium wins, Robinson will become the new director of Los Alamos Lab. Lockheed Martin is a major military contractor and currently manages Sandia. The Alternative: Tri-Valley CAREs has joined with Nuclear Watch of New Mexico to prepare a bid. Preparing this bid will demonstrate how lab managers can work with community members and facility employees to safeguard public health and clean up the environmental mess caused by nuclear weapons development. Our bid will also emphasize running Los Alamos Lab in compliance with U.S. treaty obligations, including the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The DOE is not expected to favor this approach.

Students Protest Regents. On May 25, about fifty University of California students testified before the Regents of the University, asking them to vote against bidding for Los Alamos and to get out of the bomb making business. First, the Regents limited each speaker to 90 seconds. Then, the Regents terminated the public comment period before all of the students had an opportunity to speak. Students and their supporters began to chant: "We will not be silenced in the face of UC violence." At that point, the Regents left the meeting and the students were met with campus police. After a brief negotiation, the students agreed to sit quietly and remain for the vote. The subcommittee vote was unanimous in favor of bidding to manage Los Alamos. The students began chanting, "We vote no!," and the Regents again left the meeting.

Nuclear Poll. The American people, once again, overwhelmingly support disarmament. In a new AP-Ipsos poll, two-thirds of those surveyed said that no nation?including the U.S.?should possess nuclear weapons. This is consistent with earlier polls that found even greater numbers of Americans (more than 80%) favoring the global abolition of nuclear arms. This latest poll also found that more than half (52%) of those surveyed thought a nuclear attack by one country against another is either very likely or somewhat likely by 2010. A similar number (53%) rated the possibility of a nuclear attack by a terrorist group at least somewhat likely.

Bio-War Brief. Tri-Valley CAREs has filed its Opening Brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Our goal is to get the Court to compel a thorough environmental review and public hearings before live anthrax, plague and other potentially deadly pathogens are brought to Livermore Lab and used in aerosol experiments on up to 100 small animals at a time. We recently received written notice from the Justice Dept. (which is handling the case for DOE) that the bio-warfare agent facility is not yet operational. Our efforts have prevented Livermore Lab from using these agents in the planned bio-warfare research facility since DOE first gave the "green light" in Dec. 2002. For our Opening Brief and other documents, go to www.trivalleycares.org.

Plutonium Insecurity Complex. In prior newsletters, we have highlighted the unresolved safety problems that have shut down Livermore Lab?s plutonium facility ? and we disclosed that plutonium is being stored in paint cans and food cans. Now, a May 2005 report by the Project on Government Oversight says that the plutonium at Livermore Lab cannot be made secure from a terrorist attack. The report is titled, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Homeland Security Opportunities." See www.pogo.org for the report and www.trivalleycares.org for more on the plan to increase plutonium at Livermore. Stay tuned!


Take Action!

from June 2005 Tri-Valley CAREs' newsletter, Citizen's Watch

ACTION ALERT!

U.S. spending on nuclear weapons continues to rise. For Fiscal Year 2006, DOE is requesting more than $6.6 billion for nuclear weapons activities. The proposed funds for DOE nuclear weapons are increased over last year?s budget while money for environmental cleanup at DOE sites decreases. This is backwards!

In the coming weeks, Congress will vote on the DOE budget request. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to reduce funding for nuclear weapons and direct money instead to dismantling nuclear weapons and cleaning up the nuclear complex.

For details, we have an analysis of the DOE budget at www.trivalleycares.org. We propose a "Curatorship" approach to the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile that would save $2 billion in 2006.

Take action now to help stop America?s One-Nation Arms Race. Contact your members of Congress and tell them you would like to see nuclear weapons funding reduced by $2 billion.

To send a letter to your members of Congress via the web, go to http://capwiz.com/wagingpeace/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7565846

Or, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

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