Historical surge in weapons spending does not disarmament make and other news
May 12, 2010
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
been so many things happening since our last communication with you
that I really do not know where to start. We keep
hearing about Obama's disarmament plans, especially since his speech
in Prague in April 2009. However, what many of you might not realize
is that Obama really didn't promise disarmament then and never has.
He just spoke of his commitment "to seek . . . a world without
nuclear weapons," while at the same time maintaining “a
safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and
guarantee that defense to our allies."
can say that he is sincerely living up to his commitment to maintain
the arsenal. On February 1st the Obama administration
released its fiscal year 2011 budget request containing the largest
spending surge for the nuclear weapons complex, and also the
military, since the early 1940's. This isn't the way you “seek”
a world without nuclear weapons. Obama was right when he said that
it might not happen in his lifetime. It definitely won't at this
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was debated and shelved. And
from the Study Group's perspective this was a good outcome. Early in
the debate it was obvious that the concessions demanded by the Senate
were going to be piled heavy and high. As Greg Mello said in an
email earlier this year, “Active or passive support [by
non-governmental organizations in this case] of U.S. ratification of the test ban
means active or passive political support (respectively) for
enhancement of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, infrastructure,
and budget. In other words, in the U.S. today, support
for CTBT ratification means supporting the opposite of nuclear
7th the Obama administration released the Nuclear Posture
Review (NPR) which describes a continuous modernization of warheads,
bombs and delivery systems, mentions three successive warhead
programs, the W76-1 LEP, B61-12 LEP and the W78 or W78/W88
replacement warhead. The NPR also specifically endorses the
Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility
(CMRR-NF) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the
construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12
plant in Tennessee. Both the CMRR and the UPF are multi-billion
dollar projects, with the CMRR currently at $4.2 billion and aimed at
enhancing LANL’s capacity to manufacture new plutonium warhead
next day, April 8th, President Obama and Russian President
Medvedev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). It now
will be sent to the Senate to begin the ratification process.
However, as Greg correctly predicted in early January of this year,
“the START treaty will not be ratified without, at a minimum, a
big suite of hawkish giveaways: a) programs to gradually ease new
warheads into the stockpile under a variety of shifting euphemisms,
bit by bit, with regular appropriations as well as mid-year
reprogramming requests; b) huge new budget-breaking
infrastructure commitments; and hence c) a big surge in
new nuclear weapons funding; and quite likely d) some
institutional measures to ensure the permanence of funding to the
these predictions Greg mentioned have already come true, one just a
few days ago. On May 5th the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) released its reprogramming request. From the Study Group's press remarks of May 7th – this
request “primarily seeks
funds to increase the pace of planned refurbishment and upgrades to a
family of air-dropped nuclear bombs collectively called the 'B61.' Significantly, this request asks congressional permission
to modify the nuclear explosive within the bomb. If granted,
this would be the first such permission granted by Congress since the
end of nuclear testing in 1992, unless there have been secret
modifications we don’t know about.”
during the month of May states from all over the world are gathering
at the United Nations in New York to discuss the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in a review conference.
Group board member Darwin
BondGraham recently stated on his blog, “The NPT, but
especially the CTBT and New START are not about disarmament. In this
geopolitical context they are entirely about the kind of politics
that is merely the extension of war by other means. They are ways of
stabilizing the balance of powers, but also enforcing the unjust
dissemblance of superpowers. Might may not make right, but it does
make a mean treaty.
“The NPT has been used for two
decades now to browbeat any nation that would dare develop nuclear
weapons. Indeed, it was under this treaty's long shadow that the
United States justified and launched its 2003 invasion and running
occupation of Iraq. The NPT is being used with incredible
effectiveness by the United States to beat the drums of war against
Iran and call for increasingly grisly forms of sanctions against the
isolated and impoverished state of North Korea.”
emphasizing each of these treaties and agreements because I want you
to realize that the disarmament talk so far is just that –
talk. The Study Group wants real disarmament. The kind that requires actual cuts in the nuclear weapons budget and not increases higher than any since
the mid-1940s. For instance, Congress should cut the now $4.7
billion program of replacement and expansion of the Los Alamos
plutonium facilities. The first new building has already been built,
the CMRR radiological laboratory, utility, and office building
(RLUOB) and lacks only completing the installation of equipment.
The CMRR-NF, or realistically – the plutonium pit
production facility, is in the design phase. LANL has plans to begin
the vast 125' deep excavation, supposedly necessary for the CMRR-NF
foundation, into the mesa at Technical Area (TA)–55 sometime
this fall or winter. A process that will take approximately 2 years.
In constant dollars, the CMRR-NF if approved will cost at least
eight times as much as any government project ever built or planned
in New Mexico, except the interstate highways.
magnitude of the cost and size of the CMRR is beyond comprehension,
especially as to why something of this enormity should even be
discussed when our planet and its species are dying at a shockingly
rapid pace. A more responsible funding stream would be to put these
billions toward renewable energy construction as rapidly as possible.
If our government were to responsibly contemplate the future of
our country they would understand that these scarce funds are being
wasted on nuclear weapons. These weapons quite literally endanger
the security of our country. They do not deter.
As the Study Group stated in its “primer”
on the CMRR published in December 2009, “It hardly
needs to be said that spending scarce funds to provide the capacity
to “churn” the stockpile may not create the enhanced awe
and fear that was sought by the neoconservative NPR authors. Might
not such choices instead engender other, and far less deferential,
judgments of this country? Alternatively, should enhanced awe and
fear be created in those foreign eyes as planned, would that outcome
really be in U.S. security interest? Usually those who fear acquire
or enhance their own deterrent.” [emphasis added]
the next paragraph in that primer spoke of a hope that the Obama
administration would implement a different nuclear posture than the
Bush administration. As we have seen in the NPR released in April,
just the opposite has come to pass. The Obama administration has
gone above and beyond the G.W. Bush administration by requesting this
historically huge surge in
nuclear weapons spending, in infrastructure as well as building more
this situation closer you can visit the Study Group's new
CMRR web page where we have organized most of the pertinent
information mentioned above into a dedicated web page.
promises are made to reduce nuclear weapons, there are inherent
dangers in the political process, as entrenched interests demand
assurances and compensation for their threatened privileges, just
like the examples above. Greg’s article for the Bulletin
of Atomic Scientists (Feb. 4, 2010), called
this phenomenon, "The
Obama disarmament paradox.” A debate ensued following
that article that was published and hosted by the Project
on Defense Alternatives. The media interest in the
investigative analysis of the Study Group has continued to increase.
There are many articles and papers that have been requested and are
waiting to be written and many have already been written. Visit our
recently upgraded and reorganized home
page on our website to see the most current articles from Greg
Mello and Study Group board members Darwin BondGraham and Willem
Malten. Others will be published in the coming weeks.
Greg was in Washington, DC last week and very busy with many
meetings and discussions about all of the above issues, then headed to New York for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)
review conference. This past Monday he presented a panel discussion along
with Willem Malten and Francine Lindberg,
a Study Group friend from Taos. Watch our website in the coming weeks for articles and papers that will be published on all of these issues.
And for a
couple of important announcements, Roger Snodgrass, former editor of
the Los Alamos Monitor, is
now a part-time Study Group staff member. He has been reporting on
LANL for the last decade, so he has a rare expertise that we believe
will be especially valuable right now.
Darwin BondGraham is here from California having just completed his
doctorate in sociology to work with the Study Group here in
Albuquerque for a while.
Study Group is very fortunate to have these valuable associates
working closely with us here in the office, as well as many others
that have stepped up to volunteer their expertise out in the field!
We are very proud of our Study Group “team!”
would like to take this opportunity to ask you – Will you join
us and work on these issues? There are several ways that you could
“contribute” toward our work:
a sustaining donor to the Study Group and pledge a certain amount of
money each month or quarter to be deducted from your checking
account, charged to your credit card, or mail a check to the office (2901 Summit Place NE, ABQ, NM, 87106).
Just call (505-265-1200) or email me (Trish)
and I will set that up for you. You can also give a one-time, or
set up your sustaining (recurring) donation on a secure
website through JustGive.
someone from our inner circle of staff and experts to come and speak
to your organization or group. For instance, one of our Study Group
friends invited Greg to speak to a group at the Unitarian Church
here in Albuquerque at the corner of Carlisle and Comanche on
Sunday, May 16th,
9:30-10:30am. Come and listen if you can! Topics are varied that
we can speak to, many in addition to nuclear weapons policy. Such
as: climate change, fossil fuel depletion, renewable energy, and the
economy in New Mexico for example.
am not going to encourage you to write letters to your Congressional
representatives and senators. We believe it is a
waste of your time. However, what can take the place of that is
speaking to them in person, or in telephone town halls. Such as the
telephone town hall meeting that is being held this evening by Senator Jeff
Bingaman in which he is said to be discussing "our
historic victory on health insurance reform and the current work on
Wall Street reform -- and he'll take questions from
callers." I hope that some of you are calling in to participate and tell him what you think about "our historic victory" and Wall Street.
meeting with them in person is even better. If you have the
opportunity to meet face-to-face with any of your Congressional
representatives (not staff) in person please take that opportunity
and drive home to them your opposition to the enormity of nuclear
weapons spending that should be zeroed out and redirected toward
renewable energy construction and jobs for New Mexico!
and articles that are a good use of your time are the ones written
to the editors of newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other outlets.
Visibility is the key here. And you can reach a vast amount of
constituents like yourself when you publish your letters or articles
in these venues.
close, I want to reiterate how very important your contributions of
all types are to the future success of the Study Group. Please
consider how you can become more involved with our work.
The following poem was
submitted recently by John Otter, another Study Group friend.
no more hip-hip-hooray
the good ole U.S. of A
corporations' foolhardy speculation
financial collapse in our nation
which citizens are made to pay.
just one of those things
used to be done by kings
now it's corporations that rule.
government has become their tool
citizens wait in the wings.
Otter, February 2010