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For immediate release June 20, 2016

Senior military, nuclear weapons officials convene in Albuquerque to promote $1 trillion nuclear weapons plan

Protests tonight and tomorrow plus teach-in being organized by disarmament, anti-war, justice, and environmental groups

Contact: Greg Mello, gmello@lasg.org, 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563 (after 5:30 tonight and all day tomorrow)

ALBUQUERQUE– Tomorrow, June 21, a panoply of nuclear officials and generals will convene in Albuquerque to discuss and promote US nuclear weapons plans and New Mexico's role in them. The meeting has been organized by the "Strategic Deterrent Coalition" (SDC) and is being funded by Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Orbital ATK, BAE Systems, and others -- and directly by the Air Force, through the time of its officers and airmen if not also in other ways. 

Speakers include Adm. Cecil Haney, Commander of the US Strategic Command, Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Dep. USAF Chief of Staff for Nuclear Integration, Gen. Paul Selva, Vice-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (canceled), Gen. Robin Rand, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, Gen. (ret.) Frank Klotz, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), senior nuclear laboratory officials from New Mexico and California, University of New Mexico (UNM) officials, and Mayor of Albuquerque Richard Berry.

Originally scheduled to take place at UNM, the conference venue was changed at the last moment to the Crowne Plaza Hotel (map). Attendance was open to members of the public, at $250 each. Registration is now closed.

Los Alamos Study Group (LASG) Director Greg Mello, with LASG Disarmament Fellow Valentina Bellafante, will attend the Symposium.

The Symposium begins with a reception tonight at 6:30 pm at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

A number of cooperating disarmament, anti-war, economic justice, environmental groups are organizing demonstrations -- tonight at 6:30 pm at the Museum (Eubank and Southern Blvd, SE), and tomorrow at 1:30 pm at the Crowne Plaza (University and Menaul). 

The UNM Peace and Justice Program and the Los Alamos Study Group have organized a teach-in to run in parallel to tomorrow's events, upstairs in the UNM Student Union Building (where the SDC Symposium was originally scheduled to be held).

Further important background, links, and on-the-record commentary about this event and its key organizers (cite to: Los Alamos Study Group and Greg Mello) can be found in a recent Study Group bulletin, “Doomsday Forum” in Albuquerque June 20-21, all invited...

Study Group director Greg Mello: "This Symposium comes at a time when ambitious US nuclear weapons plans, expected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years, are coming under withering criticism from recent US senior military and civilian defense officials, independent analysts, members of Congress, and diplomats.

"Planned Air Force nuclear weapon systems are especially vulnerable to the application of logic and restraint. Last month in Geneva, some of us heard former STRATCOM commander and former Vice-Chair of the Joint Chiefs James Cartwright state that the US ICBM force “has no deterrent value.” Former Secretary of Defense William Perry agrees. So do we. The ICBM force is not survivable in an attack. As General Cartwright put it, 'Only survivable forces deter.'

"Air Force nuclear weapons replacements and upgrades are expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Much of that money would go to the sponsors of this symposium.

"Senior senators Dianne Feinstein and Adam Smith both agree with former Defense Secretary William Perry and others who oppose the proposed stealthy, destabilizing Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) cruise missile. Recent former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Defense Programs Andrew C. Weber, who reportedly was maneuvered out of his job by Adm. Haney (one of the speakers at this symposium), is another outspoken LRSO opponent. Meanwhile opposition to the B61-12 gravity bomb continues, especially in European public opinion.

"The Air Force nuclear commands should try to implement their orders better, not spend taxpayer dollars lobbying to feather nests for themselves and their future employers as they are doing in this case. There is a constitutional case to be made that these promotional activities exceed military authority in our system of government -- at least as we once knew that authority. 

"The fairly tight-knit, militarist, anti-environmental political faction shaped and sustained by the nuclear weapons enterprise in New Mexico has worked with considerable success to undermine labor, environmental protection, and socially-progressive policies in our state for many years. Their negative influence has strongly contributed to the poor economic and social outcomes we see. Our fawning loyalty to the nuclear weapons mission, to the two big labs and to Kirtland among the other bases is a political addiction, a sickness.

"Those who think these labs are capable to leading an 'innovation' economy in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are quite mistaken. There is nothing in history or logic to suggest that the 'innovation' economy being proposed, which UNM supposedly seeks to further by joining with stronger institutions in a bid to manage Sandia National Laboratories, will be anything but another self-dealing failure engineered by the state's current ruling clique."

***ENDS***


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