Academy Award Winning Filmmaker Visits New Mexico to Help Stop LES

* Academy Award winning filmmaker, John Friedman, will be visiting New Mexico this week to discuss his film Stealing the Fire, which accuses Urenco, an international conglomerate, of illegal nuclear weapons trade. Urenco is one of the primary parent companies of Louisiana Energy Services (LES), which is proposing to build a uranium enrichment facility in Lea County, New Mexico.

Stealing the Fire was produced in 2002 and details the origins of gas centrifuge uranium enrichment, which is the technology proposed for the facility. It goes on to profile German scientist Karl Heinz-Schaab, the first person in fifty years to be convicted of atomic espionage in an open trial.

Schaab, during his tenure at Urenco, stole sensitive documents detailing the centrifuge technology by which uranium is enriched for nuclear weapons. Schaab subsequently sold this technology to Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya. The New York Daily News said of the film, "The filmmakers cover the historical role Germany has played in placing atomic weapons in the most dangerous hands. With an impressive amount of research and some extraordinary access, they paint a timely, disturbing picture that shouldn't go overlooked."

Friedman will be in Albuquerque and Hobbs to discuss Urenco and the impacts it has had on international nuclear weapons proliferation. He will also discuss the potential national security threat posed by Urencošs operating in the U.S.

Friedman, who was the co-director and co-producer of the film, is a longtime, part-time resident of New Mexico. A journalist, as well as a filmmaker, he was a war correspondent in the Middle East and has written for a number of publications, including The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

Of Stealing the Fire, Friedman says, "The film names names, showing in detail how corporations are spreading dangerous nuclear weapons technology around the world in a new nuclear underground. The film, told like a spy story, explains the hidden history of Urenco, which formed [LES] and wants to build a uranium enrichment plant in Lea County. Stealing the Fire can be a wake up call for New Mexico residents."

Representatives from Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) will also be available to answer questions specific to the proposal by LES and Urenco in New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a draft environmental impact statement for the facility recently. The statement does not address the effects that LES or Urenco may have on national security or nuclear weapons proliferation.

Amy Williams, of CCNS, said, "CCNS hopes that, through this film, we will expand the debate about LES beyond the waste issue. New Mexicans need to understand that this facility presents a real danger to both local and national security, which is an issue that has been unfortunately overlooked by the NRC."

Stealing the Fire will be shown at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice on Sunday, September 19th at 7:00 p.m. and at the Hobbs Public Library on Tuesday, September 21st at 7:00 p.m. For more information, please call 986-1973.

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