Groups Nationwide Call on 2004 Presidential Candidates to Address U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

* A coalition of grassroots organizations nationwide are calling on 2004 Presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry to highlight their positions on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. The groups are organized as part of the national BE SAFE campaign, which advocates a precautionary approach to nuclear weapons production.

The campaign is organized by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Lois Marie Gibbs, the center's director, said, "[We] call on national leaders to halt the weapons build up, reinstate precautionary disarmament plans and establish nuclear waste cleanup policies that are protective of our children."

Both candidates Bush and Kerry have released official campaign statements on nuclear weapons production and proliferation. However, Bush focuses primarily on international weapons trade and potential terrorist threat, whereas Kerry addresses domestic nuclear weapons policy.

In his statement, Kerry says that his administration would work to secure nuclear weapons and material stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia. There are currently tons of nuclear materials that remain insecure in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kerry also advocates a global ban on production of new fissile material, as well as ending development of new and advanced designs of nuclear weapons in the U.S. Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, stated their commitment to strengthening the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty during presentations at the Democratic National Convention recently.

A statement by the Bush campaign claims that he has elevated nonproliferation to the top of the global agenda by advocating the G-8 Declaration on Nonproliferation, saying, "We recognize that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery poses a growing danger to us all."

Bush's position focuses primarily on international terrorist threat and the supposed threat posed by nuclear weapons in Iraq. He also argues that his administration has been working with allies to verify dismantlement of weapons programs in North Korea and Iran.

Bush's domestic weapons policy, as President, has advocated research and design of new and advanced weapons, reducing the preparation time required to resume weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site and increasing the nuclear weapons budget to nearly Cold War levels.

The groups are requesting that disarmament be a part of Kerry and Bush's campaign agenda through a national call-in day. The groups are encouraging members and supporters to call each campaign and ask them to explain how the nuclear weapons stockpile will be reduced and eliminated and how radioactive and toxic pollution will be cleaned up throughout the nuclear weapons complex.

Martin Butcher, of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "[We] are concerned by the trend towards increasing U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities with the development of smaller, more usable [weapons], preparations for nuclear weapons testing and, most recently, a move to lessen the standards for how we store the most dangerous types of nuclear waste."

The national call-in day, as part of the BE SAFE campaign, will be held on Monday, August 9. For more information, please contact CCNS at 986-1973.

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