Real Scary Stuff -- Official: Nuclear tests needed

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Thu Aug 15 15:36:02 MDT 2002

      Note by Hunterbear:

      In addition to all of the other massively negative things renewed
nuclear testing would engender -- treaty violations, arms races into hideous
levels of insanity, and environmental disasters generally -- there is the
blunt fact that many, many thousands of people have died within the United
States [as elsewhere] as a direct result of nuclear test and related fallout
and the associated matter of uranium mining/milling/refining/waste-spilloff.
If anything in the whole contemporary global panorama of madness -- on-going
or proposed -- epitomizes the concept of "crackpot realism" coined and used
by the late radical sociologist C. Wright Mills, this whole nuclear testing
thing is certainly it.

      As a young person in Northern Arizona in the '50s, I saw the dark,
early morning sky light up again and again via nuclear tests -- away off to
the northwest in Nevada.These continued for many, many years.  In the
general Flagstaff region, we were protected by both  the very high San
Francisco Mountains just to our north -- and by the wind currents in the
further-to-the-north Grand Canyon.  But the fallout from the nuclear testing
at Desert Rock, Nevada created -- as the lethal years passed and the deadly
accumulations mounted -- a trail of death across much of Nevada, a good part
of Northern Arizona, much of Utah, Southern Idaho and well beyond.  Effects
have been noted in North Dakota.

       In the small Mormon town of Fredonia, Arizona -- close to Utah --
leukemia rates climbed to almost 20 times the national average by about
1980.  I lost two friends very directly from this Nevada testing.  One, from
Flagstaff, worked for the Nevada Highway Department in a setting where he
was consistently hit by fallout -- and he died young of massive brain
cancer.  The other, a friend from childhood onward, who was serving as a
U.S. Army veterinary officer in the late '50s, found himself in charge of
tethering livestock in the immediate test area and then directly studying
them in the field for various gradations of always lethal "nuclear damage."
When we got together for a visit in Salt Lake in the summer of '59, he was
planning to leave the Army just as soon as possible.  In 1975,  I saw him at
Flagstaff and, my age, he looked -- with his pale and incredibly wrinkled
face and sparse white hair -- like a man in his late '70s [if not older.]
He died soon thereafter of multiple cancers.

      The deadly effects of the uranium situation -- much of this within and
around the vast Navajo reservation [Northeastern Arizona, Northwestern New
Mexico, a slice of Southeastern Utah and a bit of Southwestern Colorado] and
the Laguna Reservation in Northwest/Central New Mexico -- have been
extraordinarily heavy on people, livestock, and land.  [We have discussions
of this in various parts of our large website: e.g.,

      Nuclear testing?  Fight this Evil.  Fight it to its death!  And fight
it to Hell.

      Hunter [Hunterbear]


      ATTACK ON US: WEAPONS ARSENAL AGING: Official: Nuclear tests needed

      WEAPONS ARSENAL AGING: Official: Nuclear tests needed

      Test site activation talk draws strong reaction


      A Defense Department adviser on nuclear weapons programs said
Wednesday the
      United States will need to resume full-scale nuclear tests in Nevada
in the
      coming years to check results of materiel experiments on how the
stockpile ages.

      "I believe over time we will need to verify some of the calculations
that have
      been done," Dale Klein said during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base.

      Klein, assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear and chemical
      biological defense programs, said corrosion issues have turned up in
      experiments on materials used in nuclear warheads.

      "We are finding aging characteristics," he said.

      "It could be five years, it could be 10 years," he said, referring to
when the
      United States would need to resume its full-scale, nuclear weapons

      Returning to testing will be difficult politically, he said, noting
      anti-nuclear activists and some politicians "will make the debate very

      Klein's assertion sent ripples through the anti-nuclear community.
      groups said his reasons for wanting to break a moratorium soon to
enter its
      10th year amount to a smokescreen for developing new nuclear weapons
      modifying others. These would include so-called bunker-busting,
      earth-penetrating warheads for tactical warfare.

      Resuming nuclear testing would also send the world spiraling into a
new arms
      race, they said.

      "It will be an international disaster," said Jacqueline Cabasso,
      director of Western States Legal Foundation, a nuclear disarmament
      group based in Oakland, Calif.

      "It will represent the final shedding of any semblance of any
international law
      constraints on U.S. military power projection," said Cabasso.

      "It will be a slap in the face to most of the other countries in the
world who
      have stuck with their obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty not
      to acquire nuclear weapons," she said. "If the United States resumes
      testing, other nuclear weapons states are going to resume full-scale
      testing and possibly new countries."

      Former Department of Energy defense chief Troy Wade shrugged off the
      anti-nuclear grumblings, saying he was encouraged by the comments.
Klein was a
      nuclear programs professor at the University of Texas before his
      appointment by President Bush last year.

      "I've been saying, as the enduring stockpile gets older and things
change, the
      reliability and safety could be an issue and we might have to test to
      that," said Wade, now chairman of the Nevada Alliance for Defense,
Energy and

      Wade said some U.S. nuclear weapons are 20 years old "and in some
cases it's
      been 15 years or more since some of the systems in the enduring
stockpile have
      been tested. That continues to worry me."

      Full-scale U.S. tests were put on hold indefinitely after the last
      Divider, on Sept. 23, 1992.

      In 1997, Department of Energy scientists launched the first series of
      subcritical nuclear experiments, in which small amounts of plutonium
      detonated in underground caverns at the Nevada Test Site to gather
data on how
      the stockpile ages.

      The experiments are designed not to erupt into nuclear chain
reactions. The
      data, plugged into an array of computers along with information from
      high-tech physics tools, are supposed to give answers the scientists
need to
      certify the stockpile.

      Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security
Administration, the
      Energy Department agency responsible for the stockpile, said the
      Stewardship Program is designed to ensure U.S. warheads are safe and
      in the absence of full-scale tests.

      "However, there are no guarantees," Wilkes said. "And it is only
prudent to
      continue to hedge the possibility that we may in the future uncover a
safety or
      reliability problem ... critical to the U.S. nuclear deterrent that
could not
      be fixed without nuclear testing."

      Klein, executive director of the Nuclear Weapons Council -- an elite
      group of defense and energy officials on nuclear weapons matters --
      scientists don't know how large the detonations would need to be to
ensure that
      the thousands of U.S. nuclear weapons are reliable.

      Klein is scheduled today to tour the test site, 65 miles northwest of
Las Vegas.

      The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a Chicago-based magazine of
      security news and analysis, estimates there are 7,600 operational U.S.
      weapons and 382 spares.

      The magazine's publisher, Stephen Schwartz, said that although the
      administration has been exploring what it would take to reduce the
time for
      preparing the test site for resuming full-scale tests, he was not
aware of
      anyone in the administration speculating on the number of years when
      tests would be needed.

      "Either he's misinformed or he's choosing not to convey the full set
of facts.
      The reality is nuclear weapons testing is not necessary to verify a
      weapon will work," Schwartz said, referring to Klein.

      "Clearly if you're going to develop new types of weapons, new
bunker-busters or
      whatever, that would clearly require testing," Schwartz said.

      Such a move "would open the floodgates for nuclear testing worldwide,"
he said,
      noting later, "If we decide to resume nuclear weapons testing, other
      are going to take notice of that. While we don't have anything to fear
      India or Pakistan, both of those countries fear each other."

      But Klein said, "At the moment there is not a plan to develop new

      From 1945 through 1992, the United States conducted 1,054 nuclear
      primarily at the test site and in the South Pacific. The figure
doesn't include
      the two bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, Japan
      57 years ago this month. The detonations, however, include some in
      multiple devices were exploded simultaneously.

      Since 1997, there have been 17 U.S. subcritical experiments. The last
one was
      conducted at the test site's underground complex on June 7 by
scientists from
      Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

      Peggy Maze Johnson, executive director of Citizen Alert, a statewide
      environmental group, said resuming nuclear testing would be "insanity.
... We
      have a treaty. We're not supposed to be doing that. What is the rest
of the
      world going to say?"

      Long-time anti-nuclear activist Kalynda Tilges said government
officials will
      have to face throngs of protesters who will remind them of
contamination that
      still lingers if they try to resume nuclear tests.

      "I don't think we're going to trust them any more this time than we
did last
      time," Tilges said. "Rest assured, there will be no more full-scale
testing in
      the state of Nevada. The people won't let it happen."


Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear] (strawberry socialism)
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