Nuclear Policy Experts Discuss New Mexico's Role in the U.S. Weapons Complex

* Nuclear policy experts visited Santa Fe, New Mexico recently to discuss the role of New Mexico and the national laboratories in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and ways that New Mexicans can influence disarmament efforts internationally. Speakers at the event were representatives from the Center for Defense Information (CDI) and included Admiral Stansfield Turner, former Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Bruce Blair, Phil Coyle, former Associate Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Wayne Glass, former defense policy advisor to Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Turner outlined and criticized what he believes to be the four tenets of the Bush Administration's nuclear weapons policy. These are the development of a missile defense system, strengthening first-use capability, development of smaller, usable nuclear weapons and supposed reduction of weapons under the Moscow Treaty. Turner was particularly critical of a U.S. first-use policy and development of smaller, usable weapons, saying, "The U.S. just cannot claim that we need weapons for this purpose and that Iran, Iraq and North Korea don't need any at all."

Turner also advocated eventual disarmament through a weapons escrow program, through which, Turner said, "We would put the weapons away and have international monitoring so other countries know what we have." Such a program would require the U.S. to its relinquish weapons gradually. Turner said, "The U.S. must lead the world in order to galvanize [it] to look at this problem urgently and see that this is a threat hanging over your children and grandchildren...."

Blair is a former Air Force launch control officer for intercontinental ballistic missiles. He argued that Russia continues to be a driving force behind U.S. weapons policies despite the end of the Cold War, saying, "If you take Russia out of the picture ... the whole thing unravels." Blair also said that the number of nuclear arms the U.S. currently possesses, which equals 100,000 times the strength of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is absolutely unacceptable.

Glass claimed that the weaponeers themselves, who are attempting to secure their careers, stimulate the current weapons policy. Glass said, "The nuclear mafia hangs on to its profession until the bitter end."

The event was a benefit for New Mexicans for Department of Energy Accountability, which is a collaboration of organizations working to effectively oppose dangerous nuclear weapons facilities, advocate improved regulation, compliance and enforcement at DOE sites.

The event provided an opportunity for New Mexicans to relate disarmament to the myriad problems that the nuclear weapons complex presents to New Mexico, including environment, health and economy. For example, Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, took the opportunity to discuss with the experts the exaggeration of the economic claims of DOE in New Mexico.

Ron Curry, of the New Mexico Environment Department, outlined the environmental concerns related to the national laboratories. Curry said, "We've concluded that ... if [Los Alamos National Laboratory] were to go away tomorrow, their whistleblower problems would go away, their security problems would go away, but their environmental legacy would continue."

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