WASHINGTON - December 14 - Twenty-three national religious organizations will file a formal public comment Thursday opposing Bush administration plans to spend over $150 billion in taxpayer funds to update the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and build a new nuclear bomb plant that is unneeded and unwise, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) announced today. “While we come from separate religious traditions, we speak with one voice to say that we oppose the construction of a new nuclear weapons complex,” declares a coalition of national Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, and Protestant groups.
“The U.S. cannot call on other nations to stop the production of new nuclear weapons while American scientists are spending billions to develop a new generation of deadly nuclear bombs,” declare the religious groups in a written comment submitted to the Energy Department at a public hearing in Washington, DC. The Washington hearing is one of a series of public events the Energy Department is holding as part of efforts to assess the environmental impact of Complex 2030, the proposed $150 billion plan to rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. The centerpiece of this proposal is a new nuclear weapons facility for the production of plutonium pits, the primary detonators in modern nuclear weapons. Five states– Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas– are under consideration as possible host sites for the new bomb plant.
“Given that the U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons has the destructive power to unleash an estimated 50,000 times the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, the U.S. should be working to reduce its stockpile of nuclear bombs, not devising new ways to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build new weapons,” explains David Culp, a disarmament lobbyist at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the group which organized the statement in cooperation with the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger. The full text of the statement and a list of signers can be found at http://www.fcnl.org/pdfs/nuclear/Complex_2030_Comments.pdf (PDF).
“The production of nuclear weapons brings with it a legacy of health problems and environmental degradation, borne in large part by the poorest of the poor. The renewal of the nuclear weapons complex as described in the Complex 2030 plan would add to the devastation that these communities are already experiencing,” write the organizations.
While the government argued that some existing plutonium pits would reach their “end-of-life age limit” in the next decade, the statement cites a congressionally mandated study that places pit shelf life at 40 to 55 years longer than previous Energy Department figures. The religious signatories also express concern that the new facility will be used in the development of the next generation of nuclear warheads in spite of the moral and legal obligation of the United States to reduce its weapons arsenal.
The public hearing on Complex 2030 in Washington, DC will be held Thursday, December 14, 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave., SW, Room 1E-245.
More information on Complex 2030 and FCNL’s Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program is available at www.fcnl.org/nuclear.
For more on the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger, see www.faithfulsecurity.org or contact Jessica Wilbanks at 505-586-2291 or firstname.lastname@example.org