Local and National Officials Say, "No New Bomb Factory, No Where, No Way."
* Local and national officials this week said, "No new bomb factory, no where, no way." First, a House of Representatives Committee moved to cut the budget for environmental studies for the Modern Pit Facility (MPF). Also, members of the Santa Fe City Council announced that they will present a resolution this month to oppose the MPF.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have proposed locating the MPF at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, or the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The MPF would produce up to 500 plutonium pits per year. The pit is the core of modern thermonuclear weapons. NNSA has drawn nationwide criticism for a project that may initiate a new nuclear arms race, and would be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is the first most crucial step toward global nuclear disarmament.
However, a House Appropriations Committee slashed the current funding for the MPF from $22 million to $11 million. The Committee also eliminated $16 million for research into proposed battlefield nuclear weapons, such as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator and low-yield nuclear weapons. Components for both of those weapons could be produced at the MPF. Furthermore, the Committee rejected a funding request to shorten the lead-time necessary to resume underground weapons testing at NTS from three years to 18 months.
Although DOE has expressed its disappointment, Ohio Republican representative David Hobson, chairman of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, said, "Unfortunately, [DOE] continues to ask Congress to fund a Cold War nuclear arsenal, and the nuclear weapons complex necessary to maintain that arsenal, even though we no longer face a Cold War adversary." Hobson also said, "Before we go blindly into new areas, we have to think about where we are and what we are doing with what we've got. I did what I thought was the responsible thing to do, and my committee concurred."
Senate members are currently drafting a similar measure. California Senator Diane Feinstein, said, "How we determine the future of the United States nuclear weapons policy will go a long way to determining whether we control nuclear proliferation or expand it."
Locally, Santa Fe City Councilor Matthew Ortiz introduced a resolution to officially oppose the MPF, which was supported by Councilors Patti Bushee, Miguel Chavez, David Coss, and Rebecca Wurtzburger. The draft resolution states, ³Be it ... resolved that given the lack of discovered aging effects impacting plutonium pit safety and reliability, the lack of need for high production rates given the recently ratified treaty with Russia requiring massive future arms reductions, and the need for the United States to show global leadership by example in constraining the production and spread of weapons of mass destruction, the governing body [of the city of Santa Fe] objects to the construction and operations of the [MPF] anywhere."
The resolution is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, July 30.
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