Reading Room

Redefining Our National Security: Ending Nuclear Weapons Research, Development, Testing and Production


The Cold War ended more than five years ago. Yet the nuclear nations retain some 20,000 operational nuclear weapons, many on full alert status. Even if START II is fully implemented, the U.S. plans to keep some 10,000 nuclear weapons; 3,500 strategic weapons along an undisclosed number of tactical nukes and many thousands of additional bombs in a "reserve" arsenal, not counted under the terms of the treaty. Submarines carrying deadly long-range nuclear missiles are patrolling the world's oceans, ready to target any city on earth at a moment's notice. The U.S. is building new Trident submarines, B-2 bombers and earth-penetrating nuclear weapons (called the B61-11).

The U.S. signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. Yet the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) keeps the Nevada Test Site in a state of "readiness" to conduct a nuclear test while it also builds a new laboratory-based nuclear testing infrastructure to attempt a technological end run around the purpose of the CTBT. This program, euphemistically called "Stockpile Stewardship," keeps U.S. bomb designers busy advancing nuclear weapons concepts, endangers global acceptance of the CTBT, promotes nuclear proliferation around the world and creates new nuclear waste and pollution in our communities. Tax-payers are being asked to pick up the price tag$40 billion over the next ten years alone!

This "Stockpile Stewardship" program is a far-flung attempt to keep nuclear weaponeers busy across the country. Its most dangerous elements include underground "subcritical" nuclear experiments planned this year for the Nevada Test Site and a stadium-sized laser fusion facility to create small thermonuclear blasts in a reactor vesselthe National Ignition Facilityunder construction at Livermore Lab in California.


There is a rapidly rising crescendo of voices calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. For example, last December, 60 generals and admirals world-wide released a statement on disarmament proposing steps toward that goal including removal of all nuclear forces from "alert" status, deep reductions in stockpiles and fundamental policy changes including governmental commitments to the "continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination of nuclear weapons." Add your voice by writing a letter-to-the editor of your favorite newspaper, calling the White House comment line, joining a Hiroshima Day commemoration in your community (or starting one if it doesn't now exist) or taking other actions as they occur to you.

Progressive environmental groups, conservative tax-payer organizations, peace advocates, religious leaders and others have joined forces to stop the DOE's overblown "Stockpile Stewardship" program and replace it with a passive curatorship for the arsenal as it awaits dismantlement. DOE's current plans are little more than recycled Cold War schemes for maintaining large nuclear weapons budgets indefinitely. The DOE Fiscal Year 1998 budget request to Congress is up about $1 billion dollars over FY 1997, from $4 billion to a $5.1 billion request. Most of this increase is for the National Ignition Facility. You can write or call your Senators and Representative and offer your opinion on budget cutsand on what you believe they might better spend our national treasury.

If you belong to an organization working on these issues, volunteer an extra hour or two of your time. If you do not belong to a group, consider joining or starting one in your community. If you would like to join Tri-Valley CAREs, please contact us for more information.

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