* President Clinton visits LANL to view bomb test simulation.

* Department of Energy budget demands increased funds for weapons, but not for cleanup.

* World leaders sign petition for nuclear abolition.

* French Government shuts down world's largest fast-breeder nuclear reactor.


* President Clinton recently visited Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the first atomic bomb, and observed first-hand a nuclear test simulation by the "Blue Mountain" supercomputer. The President is asking for Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a global treaty banning nuclear weapons tests. The treaty has been signed by 156 countries, but only 10 states have ratified it. The U.S. has observed a moratorium on testing since 1992, but Republicans question whether the U.S. atomic stockpile can be properly maintained without testing. The President maintains that this can be done using computer experiments without the actual explosion. His budget for fiscal year 1999 includes $500 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop the new generation of supercomputers.

"The point of the treaty is to ban the bang, not the bomb," said Robert Bell, National Security Council Director for arms control. Arms control activists worry that the explosion in supercomputing power could allow scientists to design new kinds of nuclear weapons without having to test them, thus violating the spirit if not the letter of the test ban treaty, which was historically intended to prevent further modernization of nuclear weapons, and, eventually, to eliminate them.

During the President's visit, activists gathered to protest LANL's new plutonium pit production and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP,) a nuclear waste storage facility due to open in Carlsbad, NM this spring. "This state is becoming more and more of a nuclear weapons colony. It's important to let the president know that not everybody in New Mexico supports his weapons plans for the state." said Jay Coghlan, LANL program director for Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety.


* According to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, or ANA, the Department of Energy budget request for 1999 "robs legally mandated environment programs to fund radioactive pork." ANA is a network of three dozen local, regional and national organizations, including CCNS, which monitor all facilities that were part of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. ANA claims that the DOE proposal for the "Stockpile Stewardship and Management" budget rose to 4.5 billion dollars, an increase of more than 10% over last year. This total is higher than the annual average for nuclear weapons spending in the cold war. Funding for environmental programs, in contrast, has not been increased, and is slated for cut-backs in the future. ANA asserts this will probably result in failure to meet mandated clean-up compliance agreements at various facilities.

Many ANA groups are currently involved in a major lawsuit challenging DOE programs that fail to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. At the suggestion of Federal Judge Stanley Sporkin, who is hearing the case, the plaintiffs recently filed a contempt motion seeking to imprison top DOE management, including Sec. Federico Peľa, for failing to conduct an environmental analysis of the agency's clean-up program.


* A statement calling for nuclear abolition, signed by 117 civilian leaders including 47 past or present heads of state was released this week. Former President Jimmy Carter signed for the U.S. In Russia, former President Mikhail Gorbachev held a news conference to release the statement. The statement called the eradication of nuclear weapons "a moral imperative." It advocated placing all atomic warheads in storage, halting production of materials for nuclear weapons, and initiating U.S.-Russian talks immediately, to achieve deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals. It also urged consideration of adopting a "no first use" policy, repatriating nuclear weapons deployed abroad, and banning production and possession of long-range ballistic missiles. It echoed a similar statement by 60 admirals and generals in 1996, reflecting growing support for nuclear abolition among those directly responsible for nuclear weapons.


* And in another part of the globe, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and a group of his key ministers decided Monday to shut down the world's largest fast- breeder nuclear reactor, nicknamed the "Superphoenix." The reactor cost the nation billions of dollars, but furnished electricity for only six months. Its cooling system, which uses flammable liquid sodium, repeatedly suffered costly shutdowns due to leaks. Deconstructing the Superphoenix, which has been troubled by technical problems and cost overruns since its beginning, will cost the French government $1.76 billion dollars.





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