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"Forget the Rest" blog

PU factory billboard

In August 2006, this billboard replaced the one below near Tramway and I-25 urging people to take action to stop plutonium operations at LANL.

ItStartedHere...billboard

In July 2005, this billboard went up near Tramway and I-25, to replace the "Weapons of Mass Destruction ..." billboard below. It reminds motorists that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki started in New Mexico, so let's stop it here. Visit our photo album of our Hiroshima 60 event on August 6, 2005, that commemorated the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

LANL dump billboard

This billboard went up on July 26, 2005 to replace the "To initiate a war of aggression ..." billboard below. It remained there until January 2006. To read more about these billboards and this campaign that started in 1998, see our press release, "New Billboards Mark 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Bombings, Large-Scale Nuclear Waste Disposal in Northern New Mexico."

War of Aggression billboard

In January 2004, this new billboard was erected on Interstate 25 at Algodones. It is visible to northbound traffic on the right-hand side. To read more about the Nuremburg Tribunal and the illegality of the Iraq war, click here.

Weapons billboard

In May 2003, this billboard replaced the vandalized "No Blood For Oil" billboard (below) on Interstate 25 at Tramway Road. It's visible to northbound traffic on the left-hand side.

Bomb billboard

In January 2003, this billboard replaced the "It Started Here -- Let's Stop It Here" billboard (see below) on Interstate 25 north of Albuquerque in Bernalillo, where it's visible to northbound traffic. For more information about the "preemptive" war in Iraq -- the potential tragedy that prompted us to post this statement -- click here.

No Blood billboard

Also in January 2003, this billboard replaced the "Nuclear Weapons Science?" billboard (below) on Interstate 25 at Tramway Road. Want to know more? Click here.

ClosetheDump

This billboard went up in 2002, replacing "Nuclear Weapons Production" (below). It's located on Interstate 25 north of Albuquerque, visible to northbound traffic, a few miles north of Bernalillo. For more information on nuclear waste dumping at Los Alamos National Laboratory click here

Waste drums billboard

This billboard was on Interstate 25 north of Albuquerque visible to northbound traffic, a few miles north of Bernalillo. It was replaced in May 2002 by the "Close Los Alamos Nuclear Waste Dump NOW" billboard (above.) For more information on plutonium pits click here.

ItStartedHere...billboard

From 1999 until January 2003 (when it was replaced by the "Do unto others?" anti-war message), this billboard was located north of Albuquerque on Interstate 25, visible to northbound traffic. It replaced "New Mexico: World Capitol of Weapons of Mass Destruction," below.

Coincidence billboard

This billboard was located on Interstate 25 at Algodones, visible on the left as you are driving south. For more information, see the text on the Colony and the Weapons billboards.

Colony billboard

For about two years, this very large billboard was located in Albuquerque on Gibson Boulevard heading west, just before University Avenue. It welcomed many residents and visitors leaving the Albuquerque Airport, and raised some important questions that many people probably would rather not think about. Click here to find out why we have said New Mexico is "America's nuclear weapons colony."

blast

From October 1998 to mid-1999, this billboard was located on I-25 in Bernalillo, about one-third of a mile south of the U.S. Highway 44 exit. Click here to see why we have said that New Mexico is the "world capital of weapons of mass destruction."

Vatican billboard

On September 30, 1998, this billboard was put up on Highway 285 along the main route to Los Alamos. It was eventually removed under political pressure by Los Alamos and was eventually relocated to Cerrillos Road, a main northbound entry to Santa Fe, just south of Airport Road. Click here to read the Vatican statement from which the quote is taken in its entirety.

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Coincidence billboard
Why have we said that New Mexico is "America's nuclear weapons colony"?
New Mexico is preeminent among the states in nuclear weapons. Click here to find out why New Mexico might be called "the world capital of weapons of mass destruction."

But why a nuclear weapons colony?

  • Perhaps because most states can, in the post-Cold War era, resist the pollution that comes with making nuclear weapons, work that leaves radioactive scars on the land like the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP, near Carlsbad--a repository for plutonium-contaminated nuclear weapons waste from around the country), and "Area G" in Los Alamos, a permanent home to more than 7 million cubic feet of radioactive and chemical waste. A more powerful state--California--which has its own nuclear weapons lab, is able to ship much of its radioactive waste elsewhere and to relegate the dirtiest work to New Mexico's labs, keeping the land near the California lab attractive for local residential and industrial development.


  • Allowing a disproportionate share of the health and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons testing and production to be imposed on regions with small dispersed populations, with few people having enough wealth or power to affect national policy, is bad not only for places like New Mexico but for the nation as a whole. It allows those who benefit from high levels of military spending in the post-Cold War era to live far from the consequences of the decisions they have made, concealing from view the hard choices that the nuclear road in truth always has entailed. Policies which are good for all of us can only result from shared information, fair distribution of benefits, and shared risks. The nuclear weapons state has brought us secrecy, institutionalized political patronage, and sacrifice imposed mainly on those without power.


  • Perhaps because nuclear weapons research and production is an industry that creates very little civilian economic growth, it contributes to a condition in which New Mexico has become:
    • First among the states in poverty; (1)
    • Last in care of our children; (2)

    • First in drug-related deaths; (3)

    • Second in reported rapes; (4)
    • and

    • Third in growth in income disparity, with four out of five groups of New Mexico families having experienced declining real income since the 1970s. (5)
    In other words, the rich are getting slightly richer, everyone else is getting poorer, and the poor are getting quite a bit poorer--a third-world pattern. Especially if you have family, you need to know that this situation affects you. Fiscal fallout from the $5.8 trillion we have spent on nuclear weapons since 1940 occurs even if the weapons never are used, and can be found regionally in the upside-down priorities that make our state first in nuclear weapons, and last in care of children. In New Mexico public schools, for example, only 21% of 8th graders tested as "proficient" in math, 36% in science, and 34% in language arts. Social studies was better, with students testing at 51% proficient.(6) We hope you will join us in attempting to correct these priorities. We need to stop looking to nuclear weapons labs for our future, and begin the process of finding our independence and initiative, building our own institutions rather than relying on patronage from the federal government.

    While the subject of the economic and political impact of New Mexico's labs is complex, it is perhaps enough here to just pose a few obvious questions: 

  • By relying on "The Bomb" for our living, have our elected representatives in Congress and here let everything else more-or-less slide? What tradeoffs have been made to keep nuclear weapons funding high? Aren't there other kinds of public spending which could contribute far more per dollar to a balanced New Mexico economy, sustainable for the long term regardless of changes in military policy?
    • Are skilled labor and entrepreneurial talent attracted away from civilian businesses to the labs?


    • How has reliance on federal spending affected the growth and maturity of our political institutions? 


    • If we are to some extent a colony, how can we free ourselves from our colonial status?
    The sorry state of our society in New Mexico, especially the extreme vulnerability that is experienced by the hard-working families of the poor, does not need to continue. We are all in this together, and our children deserve much better.

    Notes:

    1. "N.M. leads poverty list," box in larger article, Albuquerque Journal,9/25/98. See also "N.M. incomes rise, but state remains poor," New Mexican,9/25/98. (return to text)

    2. "New Mexico rated as worst state to raise children; national study by children's rights group cites poverty, drugs, crime," New Mexican,7/29/98. (return to text)

    3. Barbara Ferry, "Northern N.M. leads state in drug deaths," New Mexican,10/25/98. (return to text)

    4. S. U. Mahesh, "FBI: State 2nd in reported rapes," Albuquerque Journal North,9/6/98. (return to text)

    5. "Gap growing between N.M. rich, poor," New Mexican,12/17/98. (return to text)

    6. Kristen Davenport, "Santa Fe math scores alarming,"New Mexican,10/21/98. (return to text)

     

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    Vatican billboard
    Nuclear weapons cannot be justified and deserve condemnation: grave consequences lie ahead if the world is ruled by the militarism of nuclear arms.
    [Vatican statement at UN reprinted in L'Osservatore Romano, October 29, 1997]

    Mr. Chairman, 

    The Holy See joins in the congratulations extended to you on your election to chair this important committee. We also extend our best wishes to other members of the bureau. 

    As the world approaches the millennium, many people and organizations are already casting their vision towards the opening years of the 21st century. Will the next century be a time of peace, the fruit of the blossoming of human intelligence and human love? Or will the world sink once again into the morass of wars as we have witnessed in the death-filled 20th century? The essential questions of war and peace preoccupy humanity and deserve the utmost introspection of this committee. 

    We can draw a measure of hope that peace will be our accomplishment in the years ahead because of the achievements of the past few years: the ending of the Cold War, reductions of military forces in Europe, the Chemical Weapons Treaty, reductions of nuclear weapons by the two foremost nuclear weapons States, the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the adoption of the convention on anti-personnel land-mines. These achievements are steps that have moved the world closer to peace and the First Committee has played a role inthis success. 

    But can we say that the course to peace in its entirety is clear? Unfortunately, we cannot. Every day conflict and violence still produce victims. Genocide, the slaughter of innocents, and attacks on vulnerable populations continue to scar the landscape. The arms trade, particularly of conventional weapons, only adds to the bloodshed in many warring countries. Indeed, in recent conflicts, more people are killed by short-range weapons than by weapons of mass destruction. The tragedy of this trend is that more human beings, including children, are forced to wage war. In addition, these wars are often prolonged by short-range weapons. Most developing countries where conflict situations exist are abundantly supplied with such weapons. In spite of this fact, weapons of mass destruction are still produced in great\ quantity. Nuclear weapons, aptly described as "the ultimate evil" are still possessed by the most powerful States which refuse to let them go. 

    We Cannot Simultaneously Pay for War and Peace 

    These searing facts of militarism remind us of how far the world still has to go to claim a universal peace. The world is paying a high price for the "culture of war" that has characterized the 20th century. Even now, nearly a decade after the end of the Cold War, the world's governments spend more than $800 billion a year to support military forces of more than 27 million soldiers. While this is a decline in spending since the Cold War high in 1987, most of the decline has come from the sharp drop in spending by the former Warsaw Pact countries. Despite the end of the Cold War, developed nations, other than the East European countries, spend only 10% less than they did in 1987. Military expenditures of the NATO countries are now more than 10 times the expenditures of the former Warsaw Pact countries. Not only are the developed countries big military spenders, they are also responsible for 90% of the $22 billion annual arms trade. The dangerous global proliferation of arms and weapons technology has contributed to inciting and prolonging armed conflicts raging in different locations around the world. 

    For their part, the developing countries currently spend $221 billion on armed forces. This spending is a considerable drain on these nations' already limited resources: new weapons procurement and larger armies mean less funds to invest in health, education, economic development and other urgent social needs of large and vulnerable populations. Some 1.3 billion people are so poor that they cannot meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Sixty percent of humanity lives on less than $2 a day. Despite some remarkable success in human development in some fast-growing economies, more than 100 countries are worse off today than they were 15 years ago. Each year between 13 and 18 million people, most of them children, die from hunger and poverty-related causes. 

    Sustainable development needs huge amounts of investment in scientific research, technological development, education and training, infrastructure development and the transfer of technology. Investment in these structural advances is urgently needed to stop carbon dioxide poisoning of the atmosphere and the depletion of the earth's biological resources such as the forests, wetlands and animal species now under attack. But the goals for sustainable development set out in the 1992 Earth Summit's major document Agenda 21, are blocked by political inertia, which countenances continued high military spending. 

    It is clear, as the Director-General of UNESCO put it, that "we cannot simultaneously pay the price of war and the price of peace." Budgetary priorities need to be realigned in order to direct financial resources to enhancing life, not producing death. A transformation of political attitudes is needed to build a "culture of peace." A new political attitude would say no to investment in arms and destruction and yes to investment in the construction of peace. The relationship between disarmament and development, given short shrift by governments since the international conference of 1987, must be emphasized anew. In that relationship, a process of disarmament, providing security and progressively lower levels of armaments, could allow more resources to be devoted to development; correspondingly, the development process enhances security and can promote disarmament. 

    Nuclear Arms are Incompatible with the Peace We Seek 

    Such an approach to human security by governments would lead to the fulfillment of the right to peace, which every person in every culture can claim. No lesser goal than the right to live in peace will suffice for the new millennium. 

    The international community, when awakened, has shown that it can indeed move to strengthen human security. The work fostered by the Ottawa Process in producing a treaty banning the production, export and use of anti-personnel land-mines reflects the strengths of compassion and political action. The Holy See commends this initiative and urges universal support for the treaty. Pope John Paul II has appealed for the "definitive cessation" of the manufacture and use of such "insidious arms" which strike cruelly and indiscriminately at civilian populations. Signing the new treaty will not be enough, however. Equal attention should be given to the detection and removal of the 100 million deployed land-mines that continue to kill and maim 28,000 innocents every year. More resources should be devoted to demining efforts. 

    If biological weapons, chemical weapons and now land-mines can be done away with, so too can nuclear weapons. No weapon so threatens the longed-for peace of the 21st century as the nuclear. Let not the immensity of this task dissuade us from the efforts needed to free humanity from such a scourge. With the valuable admonition offered in the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, the international community can see how the legal and moral arguments against nuclear weapons intertwine with the strategic: since nuclear weapons can destroy all life on the planet, they imperil all that humanity has ever stood for and indeed humanity itself. During the acrimonious years of the Cold War with the emphasis on the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence as a constant justification for the nuclear arms build-up the international community felt powerless to stop the relentless build-up of nuclear weapons. But now, in the post-Cold War era characterized by new partnerships, the international community cannot shield itself from the assault on life itself that nuclear weapons represent. 

    The work that this Committee has done in calling for negotiations leading to a Nuclear Weapons Convention must be increased. Those nuclear weapons States resisting such negotiations must be challenged, for, in clinging to their outmoded rationales for nuclear deterrence, they are denying the most ardent aspirations of humanity as well as the opinion of the highest legal authority in the world. The gravest consequences for mankind lie ahead if the world is to be ruled by the militarism represented by nuclear weapons rather than the humanitarian law espoused by the International Court of Justice. 

    Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st century. They cannot be justified. They deserve condemnation. The preservation of the Non Proliferation Treaty demands an unequivocal commitment to their abolition. 

    The Holy See has previously stated in this Committee: "The world must move to the abolition of nuclear weapons through a universal, non-discriminatory ban with intensive inspection by a universal authority." Today we repeat those words, conscious that there is a gathering momentum of world opinion in support of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This is a moral challenge, a legal challenge and a political challenge. That multiple based challenge must be met by the application of our humanity. 

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    blast
    Why have we said that New Mexico is the "world capital of weapons of mass destruction"?
    And what are "weapons of mass destruction" anyway? According to the Pentagon's official glossary, the term "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) includes nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons. Most of the world's nations have signed and ratified treaties prohibiting the stockpiling and use of chemical and biological weapons. Nuclear weapons, by contrast, are deployed in very large numbers (about 36,000)(7) by a total of eight countries. In terms of quantity, destruction power, political utility, and overt threat, nuclear weapons are still the most important WMDs. 

    Although numerous international laws, treaties, court decisions, and resolutions have substantially eroded the legitimacy of nukes (see elsewhere on this web site), the U.S., some of its NATO allies, and some of the other nuclear weapon states continue to assert that nuclear WMD are legal as a deterrent and even legal to use. 

    More than 97% of the world's nuclear weapons are held by just two countries, the United States and Russia. Of the two nuclear superpowers, Russia is broke, its weapons and delivery systems are mostly aging rapidly, and its military budget has fallen to a small fraction of Cold War levels. Both internal and external observers agree that Russia's arsenal cannot avoid shrinking to a fraction of its present size for economic reasons alone, a process that is proceeding quite independently of arms control treaties. 

    That leaves the United States. In 1998, the United States had approximately 8,400 deployed warheads; another 2,500 warheads in a "hedge" stockpile, available for re-deployment upon command; plus a third stockpile of inactive, reserve weapons available to replace deployed weapons should any operational problems develop, and approximately 1,500 warheads and bombs awaiting dismantlement.(8)

    In addition to intact weapons, there is a "strategic reserve" of several thousand plutonium "pits" and thermonuclear "secondaries," from which nuclear weapons can be reassembled if desired.(9) Absent new disarmament treaties, no further declines in the U.S. operational stockpile are now planned. 

    What is more, the U.S. is able to use its economic and political muscle in an attempt to protect the legitimacy of nuclear WMD in a variety of international forums. We not only want to keep nuclear WMD, but we are also promoting their legitimacy. 

    We also set the pace of international nuclear WMD research, sharing data with (in order of declining intimacy) Britain, France, Russia, and China. The U.S. employs about 10,000 staff members in the Russian nuclear complex, thus maintaining it. 

    In short, the United States has the most politically--and militarily--effective WMD arsenal of any nation. 

    Within the United States, New Mexico is preeminent among the states in its combined role of researcher, producer, and promoter of nuclear WMD. First, the federal government spends more money on the design and production of nuclear weapons in New Mexico than anywhere else. Based on DOE's fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget request to Congress, current federal spending in New Mexico on nuclear weapons research, development, and production is about $1,800 million, not counting WIPP and other waste projects. The next most important state in the nuke business is California, with about $800 million per year. Our labs in Los Alamos (Los Alamos National Laboratory, or LANL) and Albuquerque (Sandia National Laboratories, or SNL) suck up the millions more than twice as fast as any other state. 

    Second, we have more actual nuclear weapons than any other state. In 1997, we had about 2,850; the next largest contender was Georgia with 2,000 and Washington state with 1,600. (They are at the Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex in Albuquerque.)(10)

    Third, our senior senator, Pete Domenici, is practically the patron saint of nuclear WMD--"Saint Pete," as he is known at the nuclear labs. From his powerful positions as both Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Domenici can be counted upon to protect nuclear weapons spending when others waver. Under his patronage, nuclear weapons budgets have now grown to $4.5 billion annually--more, in real dollars, than the Cold War average for directly-comparable activities. 

    Fourth, our state leads the world in nuclear weapons innovation. Contrary to popular belief, new nuclear weapons are being developed, and one weapon with new military capability--the B61-11 earth penetrator, with a yield that can be selected in increments from 300 tons to 350 kilotons of TNT--was put into the arsenal in 1997 by Sandia and Los Alamos. A spectrum of new warheads for the Navy's Trident submarines is also being developed for possible deployment, options that will enable the Navy to replace the inaccurate W76 airburst weapon--the most numerous weapon in the U.S. stockpile--with an accurate, hard-target-capable, near-ground-burst weapon for the D-5 missile. 

    Truly, we in New Mexico, whether we like it or not, live in what has become "the world capital of weapons of mass destruction." And what are we going to do about it? This situation only persists because we let it. It started here, and we can end it here!



    Notes:

    7. Robert Norris and William Arkin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,November/December 1997, p. 67.(return to text)

    8. Robert Norris and William Arkin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,July/August 1998, pp. 69-71. (return to text)

    9. See affidavits of Gregory Mello, this web page. (return to text)

    10. Robert Norris and William Arkin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,September/October 1997, p. 62. (return to text)


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