ACTION ALERT! Senate to Vote on Nuclear Weapons
August 20, 2003
Support cuts to fund the nuclear bunker buster, resumed nuclear tests in Nevada and the new Modern Plutonium Pit Facility.
The House of Representatives has called for a cut in funds for the Pentagon's resumption of nuclear weapons production. The Senate will consider the budget soon. Senator Feinstein has called for similar cuts. Please act now.
IN BRIEF: The Senate will vote on at least one amendment to the Energy & Water appropriations bill in mid-late September. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has made a commitment to offer an amendment to cut funding for the nuclear bunker buster, the nuclear weapons "advanced concepts" teams at Livermore Lab and Los Alamos Lab, enhanced test readiness in Nevada and the Modern Plutonium Pit Facility.
ACTION: Please contact your Senators and urge them to support the Feinstein amendment and other amendments cutting new nuclear weapons programs.
If you are a Californian, call or write to Senator Dianne Feinstein and thank her for taking a leadership role in cutting the budget for new nuclear weapons.
If you are a Californian, call Senator Barbara Boxer and ask her to join Senator Feinstein in cutting the nuclear weapons budget -- and to be a vocal leader on this issue. If you are NOT a Californian, call both your Senators and ask them to support the upcoming Feinstein amendment.
Specifically, we urge you to:
(1) Act quickly to organize a meeting with your Senators during recess (before Sept. 1)
(2) Write a letter to your Senators and organize calls to their offices (see sample phone script below)
(3) Write a letter to the editor of your local newpaper using the talking points below (see sample letter below)
(4) Write Senator Dianne Feinstein a thank-you letter or call and thank her.
Call your district office or call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) to be connected to Senate offices.
Write The Honorable [Senatorís name], Attn: Defense Aide United States Senate Washington, DC 20510
In a remarkable move, the US House of Representatives cut funding for the nuclear bunker buster, advanced concepts, enhanced test readiness and the Modern Pit Facility, part of a package of $262 million in cuts to the nuclear weapons activities budget in the Fiscal Year 2004 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The Republican House is pushing a go-slow approach as the Administration has failed to issue stockpile requirements for the past two years.
The House report states, "The [Department of Energy] National Nuclear Security Administration has not been able to reconcile the recently announced dramatic reductions planned for deployed operational nuclear warheads to its strategic weapons modernization plans, some of which will cost billions of dollars each, and which are currently structured to upgrade the maximum number of warheads . . . Because the results of the stockpile review will not be provided to Congress in time to justify the fiscal year 2004 budget request, the Committee has to view the significant budget growth proposed for the current program with skepticism."
The Senate Appropriations Committee did not make equivalent cuts. Senator Feinstein is expected to offer an amendment on the floor after recess that mirrors the key cuts made in the House. Other Senators are considering similar amendments.
Below are talking points on each of the key issues before the Senate. Additional talking points and related information can be found by going to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability website via the links following each set of talking points or directly at www.ananuclear.org. .
NUCLEAR BUNKER BUSTERS (Advanced Concepts teams and Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator info)
* A nuclear bunker-buster (which will be a high-yield nuclear bomb) would create massive collateral damage, killing thousands of innocent civilians in an urban setting and spreading dangerous contaminants if buried stockpiles of chemical and/or biological weapons were targetted.
* Low-yield nuclear weapons, such as those being developed by the so-called "advanced concepts" teams, blur the line between conventional and nuclear weapons, increasing the likelihood they will be used in conflict and encouraging other nations to also view nuclear weapons as usable.
MODERN PIT FACILITY
The United States already has enough plutonium pits, with over 10,000 intact warheads and another 5,000-12,000 pits in reserve. Instead of building new pits, the United States should work with Russia to advance the schedule of reductions under the Moscow Treaty (limiting deployed weapons to around 2,000 per country) and dismantle non-deployed warheads to avoid massive stockpiles of warehoused weapons vulnerable to theft and terrorist use.
The current stockpile is not about to fall apart. The DOE states that the average age of the current stockpile is 19 years and that "measurements to date have not shown any significant degradation of pits over approximately 40 years." Weapons scientists such as Richard Garwin believe pits will last 60-90 years or more.
The Modern Pit Facility is being designed with the flexability to produce new-design pits. The Pentagon may not be willing to deploy them without testing, thus possibly prompting the U.S. to terminate observance of the CTBT and resume full-scale testing.
ENHANCED TEST READINESS
* The United States has conducted over 1,000 nuclear tests, allowing it to develop both an enormous, sophisticated nuclear arsenal and an unparalleled knowledge base. Resuming testing would lead other countries to test, eroding the U.S. advantage. The proliferation of more sophisticated arsenals in China, India and Pakistan or other countries would damage U.S. security.
* After 10 years of not testing, the U.S. nuclear stockpile has been consistently certified as safe and reliable. As recently as August 8, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that "we have no need to [test nuclear weapons]."
This action alert prepared by: Jim Bridgman, Program Director Alliance for Nuclear Accountability 322 4th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 202-544-0217; 202-544-6143 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ananuclear.org
With ,Marylia Kelley, Executive Director Tri-Valley CAREs 2582 Old First Street, Livermore, CA 94551 925-443-7148; 925-443-0177 (fax) email@example.com