Ladies and gentlemen, the media nowadays makes a huge issue against terrorism but we have a problem closer to home that steals past unnoticed. Terrorists creep into our country and threaten us with their bombs, arsenal and other terrorist activity. Anti-terrorist security has been intensified with specially trained watchdogs in every national airport, and countless federal departments, money, and especially trained personnel institutionalized to squeeze and squash the problem. All of this may serve as a smoke screen for unknown to us, but known to the American government, is the fact that more that 70,000 warheads have been created on our own soil and are maintained on a daily routine. It is time that we concentrate on reducing this threat.
For four decades after the explosion of the first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert, there are rumors that American factories are still turning out bombs with the ease and capacities that American factories are producing cars. Under the direction of the Atomic Energy Commission, superceded by the Department of Energy, Americans nuclear weapons are running continuously producing an approximated 70,000 warheads.
The 1980s’s Reagan administration has been most auspicious in this atomic buildup, but revelations about environmental and safety concerns caused public controversy against the nuclear structure in the late 1980s to dismantle much of the complex. What you had then were the following complexes being shut down: the Hanford Reservation in Washington state; the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant in Idaho; the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado; the Fernald and Mound plants in Ohio; the Savannah River site in South Carolina; and the Pinellas Plant in Florida.
Ladies and gentlemen, talks about reducing America’s nuclear arsenal have been ongoing under the auspices of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties since 1992. As far as I have discovered, America likes talking but little action has been taken. Allegedly, proposed reduction was to shrink the arsenal by 60%. In Geneva, in 1995, representatives of our nation met to negotiate a global Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a ban on the production of missile and nuclear weapons.
Despite further dismantling of nuclear arsenal compounds in the Clinton era, the Department of Energy’s 1996 budget request to Congress for $17.8 billion still contained $3.6 billion for defense programs, and for some very ‘fishy’ term — that specialists in the know interpreted to mean nuclear implications — money for financing the so-called “stockpile stewardship and management.” Whilst the Department of Energy quickly insisted that this was a “Stockpile Stewardship Program” devoted to controlling and monitoring as well as ensuring the safety of their arsenal and that their objective was to ensure its safety and reliability of this nuclear stockpile in an underground manner that would not prove dangerous to the people, other voices have articulated different opinions.
Tom Zamora Collina, for instance, executive director of the Institute for Science and International Security and an expert on the DOE weapons complex opined that tests done on these weapons, if conducted in a high and intense enough yield are still considered nuclear testing. Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, an environmental and disarmament advocacy group, fears that ongoing and developing technology gives the U.S. capacity to design super nuclear armament in the near future, and that by maintaining these “weapons research, development, testing and production capabilities at the laboratories” (Center for Defense Information (1995)) we are providing the breeding ground for a future Apocalypse.
Charles Curtis, Under-Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy of the Clinton administration, admitted that nuclear weapons research was still ongoing, although this was not directed towards designing new weapons bur rather to sustaining the old. Given the uncertainty of current global affairs, he felt strongly that America’s security needs to be in place.
In 1995, a Special Task Force on Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories, also known as the Galvin Task Force met and its specific recommendations regarding the nuclear laboratories included that none of them should be closed, that the labs should continue to be funded with public money, and that weapons design work should be phased out at Lawrence Livermore and consolidated at Los Alamos.
Mean whilst, whilst the Department of Energy insists on retaining and upgrading these nuclear laboratories in case of eventuality, some are concerned of the way in which this ‘stockpile management and stewardship will be interpreted by other countries’ causing them, perhaps, to frantically accumulate their own stockpile, and critics of nuclear armament question too whether it might no be more effective to focus on persuading countries to reduce their nuclear pile rather than o build upon and maintain our own. The world is correct to be afraid: it is no secret that the U.S. has the capability to modernize new nuclear weapons and even to design new ones without having to resort to nuclear testing. This can easily instigate a covert race for nuclear armament.
There are in reality two fears: firstly that American retention of nuclear laboratories and their insistence and persistence on maintaining and continuing their research in the area will instigate other nations to do the same. And some of these nations are quire dangerous. The second concern is that we still have the task of cleaning up the radioactive and toxic chemical pollution of the 6 complexes that were closed under the Reagan era. We don’t want to add to that. We want our country to be safe from internal and external threats of war and from contaminating substances.
For those two reasons, I argue that we actively work towards and pressurize policy that will guarantee active reduction of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Biello, D.”A Need for New Warheads?” Scientific American, November 2007
Center for Defense Information (1995) Managing America’s nuclear arsenal http://www.cdi.org/adm/Transcripts/826/
Hansen, Chuck. U.S. Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History. Arlington, TX: Aerofax, 1988.
MacKenzie, Donald A. Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990
Schwartz, Stephen I. Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998.
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