LANL - Nuclear Weapons Issues

Image of Atomic Bomb
Atomic Bomb,
Nagasaki, 1945

Comprensive Test Ban Treaty Celebration Statement

Today we celebrate the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the United Nations and its signing by President Clinton. This important milestone has been a long time coming. It's a victory for people around the world, initiated and brought to completion by the international grassroots. We can all take tremendous pride in that it is a momentous step towards abolishing nuclear weapons once and for all.

However, "all" is not well. The intent of the treaty when first proposed over 30 years was to cut off continuing nuclear weapons design. This treaty is too late in coming and is not truly comprehensive. Just 25 miles from us sits one of the biggest impediments to achieving a complete freezing of nuclear weapons development. This last April, the U.S. explicitly threatened Libya with an earth-penetrating modification to an existing bomb, a mere two weeks after signing protocols declaring all of Africa as a nuclear weapons free zone. This weapon is due to enter the stockpile this year. Because Los Alamos is now the only site in the country capable of producing plutonium pits, this weapon is undoubtedly being developed and produced here in our own back yard, even as we come to celebrate.

I read in the paper today that Los Alamos' budget rose over 30 per cent in the last ten years. You don't hear any more talk about a possible peace dividend. The lab has firmly staked its future on continuing nuclear weapons research, development and production, in opposition to growing international momentum towards abolishing all weapons of mass destruction. The lab proposes $4.85 billion in future facilities, 60% of which are for core nuclear weapons programs and 35% in direct support of those programs. The lab has converted its main physics research center to primarily weapons work. Despite the end of the Cold War, Los Alamos is essentially undergoing conversion-in-reverse. It is further fattening itself on the nuclear weapons money trough.

To return to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Los Alamos is now putting into place the world's most advanced hydrotesting and computer simulation infrastructure. This will enable it to continue nuclear weapons research and development even in the absence of full-scale tests, all under the fig leaf of maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile. The lab is essentially circumventing the intent of the CTBT. So while I say that it right and fitting to celebrate the completion of the treaty, at the same time we need to recognize it for what it is. It is one major step on the road to disarmament, with much work yet to be done. All people who yearn to rid the world of nuclear weapons should keep a close eye on Los Alamos National Laboratory. It's where it all started. It may well prove to be the most stubborn to go. Still, the CTBT victory is sweet. I trust that it will be the harbinger of yet more victories to come.

Jay Coghlan, LANL Program Director
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

statement delivered on the Plaza of Santa Fe, NM, September 24, 1996