If you love our world, do yourself a favor. Drop your shopping, your decorating and card-writing for just two minutes and send an email to Complex2030@nnsa.doe.gov. Tell the Department of Energy in your own words that we don't want more nuclear bombs—not when we have thousands already and we're trying to convince others not to build them.
In case you missed it, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Oct. 19 published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to build a new nuclear weapons complex in the United States. That complex would also be the main storage site for plutonium, while new facilities would be created in Oak Ridge, TN, for greater storage and processing of weapons grade uranium. Although the program is being sold as a way of shrinking the nuclear footprint in this country—consolidating and streamlining much of the nuclear weapons industry--Complex 2030, as it's called, would soon have the capacity to build 125 new nuclear weapons per year, a level comparable to that reached during the Cold War.
The NNSA is taking comments through Jan. 17, 2007, but act now, while you're thinking of it. As The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported a month ago, officials are preparing an environment impact statement for release this month, “to support construction of new Oak Ridge facilities--including a $500 million storage center for bomb-grade uranium and a proposed $1 billion uranium manufacturing facility.”
No doubt that environmental impact statement will mention the effects on birds and other animals, on groundwater, air, native plants and the health of nearby residents. But I wonder if it will contain the phrase, “Could result in the destruction of the planet.”
Please, resist this deal to make us all complicit in future horrors we can't begin to predict. A few corporations will profit, a few politicians will brag about new jobs, but it's a devil's bargain--jobs now, against the possible death of our entire world, as a new arms race begins in earnest.
In the past you've made a difference. The “Penny for Parks” campaign persuaded a governor to reopen state parks. Just last week the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority voted for nature-friendly land use policies following an outpouring of public support.
To its credit, our federal government asks media to let you know how to comment. So please do. If you have email, use it, if you don't, then post comments in writing to: Theodore A. Wyka, Complex 2030 SEIS Document Manager, Office of Transformation, U.S. Department of Energy, NA-10.1, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC, 20585. Or contact your senator or representative and say no to new nukes.
Else, where is our nation's moral authority? Where is our leadership? Where is our conscience? These are fair questions, I believe, considering the history of the nuclear age.
In August 1945, America exploded the first and only nuclear bombs ever used in warfare, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Set aside, for now depleted uranium shells used in Iraq.) From the outset, scientists, writers and ordinary people—including many who worked on the bombs or otherwise supported the bombing of Japan--questioned how long life on our planet could survive with such destructive weapons in the world. Albert Einstein and others wrote cautionary letters to the president. In 1949, nuclear weapons spread to the Soviet Union and later to China, France, England, Israel, India and Pakistan.
Many became alarmed and proposed treaties to limit nuclear weapons. In the late 1960s, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was born. Its terms were fairly simple. Countries that didn't have nuclear weapons before 1968 promised not to build them. Those that had them would get rid of theirs with all due haste. It seems an amazing accomplishment now. The treaty soon carried more signatures than any international treaty in history, with 189 countries signing on.
The United States signed the NPT in 1968 and our Senate ratified it the next year. In 1970 the treaty became binding. Only India, Pakistan and Israel declined to sign. Recently, North Korea announced it would withdraw from the NPT in order to make nuclear weapons. Our government didn't bother with such formality. We just moved ahead.
Let's not be gullible. If we build new nukes, countries around the world will follow our example—or the example of Iran, which has yet to violate the letter of the NPT, but is expanding its options by building a nuclear infrastructure. Japan, Brazil, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others could follow suit, as owning nukes takes on the glamour of status symbol and the force of military action. Meanwhile, America appears to be closing the window of opportunity to disarm old Soviet warheads.
What's amazing is the brazenness with which we're proceeding to break the NPT, and how the national press yawns as we once again walk toward the brink of nuclear annihilation.
Please, do what you can.