Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another reason for a toast on Dec. 31

Before leaving town last week, Congress passed a big appropriations bill which President Bush is expected to sign this week.

The appropriations bill provides funding through Sept. 30, 2008. It contains much good news for nuclear arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, due in large part to Reps. Visclosky (D-IN) and Hobson (R-OH), as well as Sen. Dorgan (D-ND), who lead the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittees.

The FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill made significant contributions to the goals of effective nuclear non-proliferation by increasing funding for almost all nuclear non-proliferation programs, while cutting funding for controversial programs that undermine and jeopardize those goals.

Here are the best parts:

-Funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (that proposes to design and develop a new type of nuclear weapon) was zeroed out ($0 for RRW!).

-Funding for nuclear spent fuel reprocessing (which separates out weapons-usable material, or material that can be easily processed to make it nuclear weapon-usable, from nuclear waste) was cut by more than $200 million.

-Funding for many of the important threat reduction programs that secure nuclear weapon-usable material in the former Soviet Union states and other countries, and for nuclear non-proliferation organizations, were increased by $340 million dollars.

-Funding for other nuclear non-proliferation programs were increased by almost $270 million (including non-proliferation and international security program, non-proliferation and verification, research and development program, U.S. contribution to create an international fuel bank, and CTBTO and IAEA funding).

-The bill requires a Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st Century to be done in consultation with federal agencies and independent, non-government organizations.

-The bill requires the President to submit to Congress in 2008 a Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction and Security Plan to secure nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-usable material by 2012.

For many more details, see the analysis and summary of the appropriations bill I prepared for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI supports a world free of nuclear weapons

The AP reports that Renato Cardinal Martino presented the Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the celebration of the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2008. On the topic of nuclear weapons, the Holy Father advises:
“At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I am echoing the desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity.”
Click here to read the full message.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Remembering George Kuzmycz

Nukes on a Blog remembers the contribution of the late George Kuzmycz to the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing.

During the last few years of his life, George led U.S. Department of Energy efforts to secure weapons usable nuclear materials in Ukraine from theft or diversion.

George’s commitment to his native Ukraine and to nonproliferation are memorialized in the ongoing work of the George Kuzmycz Training Center for Physical Protection, Control and Accounting of Nuclear Material (English translation).

George’s life reminds us that the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation result from human choices and that it is possible, as George did, for each of us to take on more than our share of responsibility for responding to these dangers.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A General, a group of visionary students, the Quakers, and 30 national organizations oppose new nuclear weapons

Lieutenant General Robert Gard (USA-ret.), Nukes on a Blog’s own Leonor Tomero, and the redoubtable researcher Achraf Farraj published an article in Friday’s Daily Californian encouraging University of California students and faculty to question the University’s involvement in the development of the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW):
“The University of California manages Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a facility leading the development of the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead, the first new hydrogen bomb designed by the United States in 20 years. Students and faculty at the University of California have a unique role to play in actively questioning this misguided U.S. nuclear weapons policy and UC’s involvement in its implementation.”
The authors conclude that:
“There are many problems facing the United States today, but the viability of its nuclear deterrent is not one of them. Building new nuclear weapons will not make us safer. It will do nothing to deter terrorists, it will not protect our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and it will not improve our relationships with other countries. It will only undermine efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, extend outdated Cold War-era thinking, shirk our international commitments, waste a lot of money and threaten our long-term security.”
University of California students have already taken up this work, most notably through the formation of the UC Student DOE Laboratory Oversight Committee. Loyal readers will recall a few more ideas about how universities can respond to the danger posed by nuclear weapons. For regular updates on the RRW program and how it related to the University of California, check out the facebook group (at www.facebook.com) "Why is the University of California building a new H bomb?"

Also last week, the Friends Committee on National Legislation organized a letter submitted to Senator Byron Dorgan who chairs the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging him to
“delete all funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) from the upcoming omnibus appropriations bill.”
The letter, signed by leaders of thirty national organizations (including the Council for a Livable World and Physicians for Social Responsibility), argued that:
“If Congress approves funding for the Energy Department to proceed with research and possible development of RRW, many in the international community will interpret this as another sign that the U.S. is walking away from its nonproliferation obligations, including Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The 118 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement have already cited development of RRW as contradictory to nuclear disarmament agreements signed by the United States. RRW will complicate efforts to win international support to bolster the beleaguered NPT system.”
The future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is an issue of great importance to all Americans and the success or failure of the emerging movement for a world free of nuclear weapons bears directly on the long-term viability of human civilization. We applaud these and other attempts by concerned citizens to precipitate a national debate worthy of this deadly serious policy choice.