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"Forget the Rest" blog

Draft resolution for discussion and adoption by local jurisdictions in New Mexico

A RESOLUTION OPPOSING PLUTONIUM MANUFACTURING AT LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY AND SUPPORTING COMPLIANCE WITH THE NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION TREATY


WHEREAS, the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“NPT”) was ratified by the United States on November 24, 1969 and entered into force on March 5, 1970[1], becoming part of what the U.S. Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land”[2]; and

WHEREAS, the NPT has now been ratified by 188 countries (all but four), and according to the United States Department of State has been remarkably successful in achieving its main goals and is an indispensable tool in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons[3]; and

WHEREAS, Article VI of the NPT requires that “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”[4]; and

WHEREAS, the International Court of Justice has unanimously ruled that “[t]here exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”[5];

WHEREAS, in recognition of these facts, the United States and all other NPT signatories formally committed to a “Thirteen Point Plan” in 2000 that lays the groundwork for systematic and progressively disarmament of the world's nuclear weapons, including “an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States parties are committed under Article VI[6];” and

WHEREAS, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), ignoring these binding laws and solemn commitments, has announced its plans to expand nuclear weapons activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), including at a minimum:

a) The initiation of manufacture of plutonium warhead cores (“pits”) for the first time since closure of the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver in 1989[7];

b) The subsequent rapid expansion of pit manufacturing, from none today to 80 pits per year by 2012 if not sooner[8]; and

c) Major investments in plutonium manufacturing and related facilities to enable further increases in LANL pit manufacturing after 2012[9]; and

WHEREAS, re-starting U.S. nuclear weapons manufacture after 17 years would send a dramatic signal to the world, undercutting global nonproliferation efforts and potentially strengthening terrorist recruitment.

WHEREAS, any use of plutonium creates health and environmental hazards; in addition to ordinary worker contamination and minor accidents, the risk of severe accidents, earthquakes, sabotage, and terrorist attack can never fully be predicted or eliminated;

WHEREAS, these activities generate large amounts of radioactive wastes of several kinds, and these wastes are now being permanently disposed at both Los Alamos and near Carlsbad, and any expansion of nuclear weapons design and manufacturing activities will cause proportionately more new radioactive waste to be generated and disposed in New Mexico; and

WHEREAS, the United States

a) Currently maintains an arsenal of nearly 10,000 nuclear weapons[10], approximately 2,000 of which reside in New Mexico, more than in any other state[11], along with large stocks of plutonium and other fissile materials, tons of which also reside in New Mexico[12];

b) Stores approximately 12,000 additional plutonium pits near Amarillo, Texas, including a “strategic reserve” of 5,000 pits[13];

c) Is designing new types of nuclear warheads, including proposed "Reliable Replacement Warheads”[14]; and

WHEREAS, more than 40% of all U.S. nuclear weapons spending occurs in New Mexico, much more than in any other state[15]; and

WHEREAS United States compliance with the NPT and specifically with its disarmament requirements is an essential step towards the goal of preventing nuclear proliferation; and

WHEREAS, large public opinion polls have shown very strong public support for nuclear disarmament in the United States, at times exceeding 80% nationally[16], and numerous civil society initiatives have sprung up around the world over the past several decades expressing widespread support for nuclear disarmament, including New Mexico[17];

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE [CITY, COUNTY, OR TOWN] OF _________________ THAT:


1. The governing body recognizes:

(a) The legal obligation to nuclear disarmament stated in Article VI of the NPT and authoritatively interpreted in the 1996 unanimous advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice;

(b) The critical importance of United States leadership in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation for our own national security;

(c) That a posture of nuclear threat or deterrence cannot remain the sole prerogative of the United States and a small group of countries friendly or not actively hostile to the United States;

(d) That the federal commitment to nuclear weapons expends enormous resources and talent, creates security and safety problems that can never be fully solved; undermines the ethical basis of our society by promoting massive and indiscriminate violence, and permanently contaminates portions of our environment;

(e) That proposals to upgrade nuclear weapons, design new varieties of such weapons, maintain thousands of nuclear weapons or build new or expanded factories for the manufacture of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons components should be strongly opposed; and

(f) As immoral the notion that human security can ever be built upon instruments of mass destruction and the will to use them.

2. The governing body calls upon our elected representatives in Congress as well as upon our Governor to publicly:

(a) Reaffirm the complete commitment of the United States to an unequivocal undertaking to the total elimination of nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States parties are committed under Article VI of the NPT;

(b) Call for progressively and systematically dismantling our nuclear arsenal in concert with other nuclear powers pursuant to Article VI of the NPT and any other treaties and agreements as may be prudent to negotiate;

(c) Call for negotiations on further treaties implementing the universal moral and legal norms against all weapons of mass destruction;
 
(d) Reject all proposals to build new or expanded factories for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons components, including increased plutonium pit production; and

(e) Request that the federal government minimize and ultimately halt disposal of nuclear waste in New Mexico.

3. The governing body directs the City Clerk to send copies of this resolution to New Mexico’s congressional delegation, the Governor, the Secretary of the DOE and the Administrator of the NNSA.


[1] The State Department summary of the NPT, containing these and other facts and the text of the treaty is available at http://www.state.gov/t/np/trty/16281.htm.

[2] U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2.

[3] Quotes from U.S. State Department, http://www.state.gov/t/np/trty/16281.htm.

[4] The full International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion is available from the Lawyer’s Committee for Nuclear Policy at http://www.lcnp.org/wcourt/opinion.htm; an excellent set of background materials and commentary has been collected at http://www.lcnp.org/wcourt.

[6] See this and many related materials assembled by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s “Reaching Critical Will” Project, at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/13point.html.

[7] See especially FY 2007 DOE Congressional Budget Request (FY2007 DOE CBR), Volume 1, National Nuclear Security Administration [NNSA], pp. 187-195, at http://www.mbe.doe.gov/budget/07budget/Content/Volumes/Vol_1_NNSA.pdf.

[8] See especially Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, [“SWEIS”] June 2006, at  http://www.eh.doe.gov/nepa/docs/deis/eis0380d/index.html.  Discussion of pit production increases can be found in the SWEIS “Summary” volume at pp S-37-38, http://www.eh.doe.gov/nepa/docs/deis/eis0380d/summary/summary.pdf.

[9] Especially the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility, costing up to $975 million if completed on budget by 2014; see FY2007 DOE CBR, Vol. 1, pp. 279-285.

[10] Natural Resources Defense Council, Robert Norris and Hans Kristensen, http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/datainx.asp.

[11] In fact, there are more nuclear weapons in Albuquerque than at any other location in the world, (Los Alamos Study Group conclusions from interviews with a leading Russian weapons complex analyst, Oleg Bukharin, at Princeton University).  For U.S. deployments, see Natural Resources Defense Council, “Taking Stock: U.S. Nuclear Deployments Worldwide,” http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/tkstock/tssum.asp.

[12] DOE, Plutonium: The First Fifty Years, 1994, archived at http://www.osti.gov/opennet/document/pu50yrs/pu50y.html.

[13] Stan Norris and Bill Arkin, “U.S. nuclear stockpile, July 1997,” in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July/August 1997, pp. 62-63, http://www.thebulletin.org/article_nn.php?art_ofn=ja97norris.

[14] See for example FY 2007 DOE CBR , Vol. 1, pp. 71ff under “Reliable Replacement Warhead.”  One of the better news articles concerning the RRW is by James Sterngold, “Upgrades planned for U.S. nuclear stockpile; agency leader expects significant warhead redesigns,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 2006, in which Linton Brooks, NNSA Administrator, “said the new effort -- called the Reliable Replacement Warhead program -- would involve a redesign of virtually all components of the warheads, as well as the resuscitation of the complex for manufacturing them at a potential cost of many billions of dollars.” At http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/15/MNGTTGNL5P1.DTL.

[15] A conservative estimate of the portion of U.S. warhead spending which occurs in New Mexico is 44%.  See FY 2007 DOE Congressional Budget Request, State Tables for the New Mexico amount,  and FY 2007 DOE Congressional Budget Request, Volume 1, National Nuclear Security Administration for the total nuclear weapons budget.  Both are at http://www.mbe.doe.gov/budget/07budget/start.htm

[16] Program on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, Steven Kull et. al., “Americans on WMD Proliferation,” April 15, 2004, archived at  http://www.lasg.org/WMDreport_04_15_04.pdf.  See also the AP/IPSOS poll from March, 2005 at http://www.lasg.org/PressAdvisory3-31-05.htm.

[17] The Call for Nuclear Disarmament at http://www.lasg.org has been endorsed by 117 New Mexico organizations, 312 New Mexico businesses, 97 national and international organizations and approximately 4,000 New Mexico individuals.  Resolutions containing all elements of this Call have been passed by the governing bodies of the City of Santa Fe (Resolution 2005-39, passed on April 13, 2005 by a 7-to-1 vote) and by the town of Madrid (i.e. the Madrid Landowners Association).  Another resolution condemning expanded pit production in particular has been sponsored by 7 (out of 8) City of Santa Fe councilors and may have already been approved as of this writing. 

 


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