statements and actions by top players within the Administration and its
shadow cabinet of unreconstructed Cold Warriors may just be trial balloons
to test the waters to see if anyone will object to a resumption of testing
and abbrogation of treaties subscribed to by the U.S. If these are only
trial balloons, they must be pierced now before they take flight, and the
Utah congressional delegation has a moral responsibility to wield the pins.
In the last
week of June, the Bush team ordered nuclear weapons scientists to study
a range of options to "reduce lead times" to resume nuclear bomb
explosions at the Nevada Test Site. The weapons laboratories argue that
testing is needed to assure that the stockpile is reliable, and some fear
that the long lead times to prepare tests give political opponents opportunities
to prevent renewed testing. A February 1 report commissioned by Congress
bemoaned the deteriorating state of nuclear weapons testing and production
facilities, leading the Administration to consider a six-year, $2 billion
initiative to up-grade the weapons programs.
a former defense official and prominent conservative analyst and advisor,
stated in May that "we're going to have to resume on a limited basis
underground testing of our nuclear arms". In a March 12 letter to Secretary
of State Colin Powell, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse
Helms called on the Administration to repudiate the signed but unratified
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The New York Times reported May 9th that
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems more inclined to deploy missile
defenses and develop nuclear forces than negotiating with Russia or China.
"Before taking office Mr. Rumsfeld argued that the U.S. should not
ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because it might need to develop
new nuclear weapons," the Times reported. So far, President Bush has
refused to place the treaty before the Senate. "'This is a paradigm
shift,' said a senior Pentagon official. 'We are probably not going to be
hampered by arms control agreements.'" (NYT 5/9/01)
In April and
May, the U.S. accused the Chinese of preparing for a nuclear weapons test
(Washington Times 4/9/01, 5/11/01), and similar accusations have been leveled
at the Russians (NYT 3/4/01). In the meantime, the Bush Administration is
putting on the diplomatic pressure to dismantle the ABM Treaty to pave the
way for ballistic missile defense. Secretary Rumsfeld has stated that there
may be a dozen different components to BMD, including the stationing of
weapons in space. Not only would this constitute a unilateral abbrogation
of the Outer Space Treaty, it would likely involve a resumption of nuclear
testing to complete development of Nuclear Directed Energy Weapons (NDEW)
projects the national weapons labs have experimented with for two decades.
Other darlings of the weapons labs, new "low yield" warheads and
the earth penetrating "bunker busting" nuclear warhead, are in
favor with the hawks in ascendance within this Administration. These too
will require nuclear tests to perfect.
these developments lead to an inescapable suspicion - that the U.S. is preparing
to unilaterally jettison a less than perfect arms control regime fostered
by every President since Eisenhower that has kept Armaggedon at bay. These
policy maneuverings threaten a costly and dangerous new arms race and are
alarming to our allies as well as our adversaries. Most alarming to the
constituents of Utah's congressional delegation is the prospect of more
nuclear tests upwind, especially those who have suffered painful losses
and grievous wrongs from being unwitting "active participants in the
nation's nuclear weapons program".
commendable efforts of Utah's congressmen to achieve a greater measure of
justice for the downwinders, uranium miners, atomic veterans, and defense
workers exposed to radiation in the name of national security, allowing
testing to begin again promises new generations of victims even as the those
sick and dying from the last round hold their government- issued IOU's.
We know now that 58% of the more than 900 underground nuclear tests conducted
over 33 years leaked radiation, many of those exposing citizens far from
the Nevada Test Site borders to harmful doses. Resuming the bomb blasts
after a nine year hiatus further increases the risk of Baneberry-like catastrophic
leaks, as it will take the bomb testers time to re-learn the techniques
for containing the blasts underground. More nuclear tests means more leaks,
more victims, and less security.
will not tolerate being bombed again! No political spin, no tortured logic,
no fear mongering that the Russians or the Chinese or the North Koreans
will be here in the morning, no assurance that "THERE IS NO DANGER"
will suffice this time. The assurances we need are that our elected representatives
will do everything in their power to prevent a resumption of nuclear testing.
Utahns must demand this now!
Steve Erickson <email@example.com> is the director of the Citizens Education Project. Preston J. Truman <firstname.lastname@example.org> is the Director of Downwinders, Inc.