Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence
Some national security experts believe that adhering to the theory of nuclear deterrence makes a country more secure. But does it really?
I wanted to share comments made by Ralph Hutchison last week at the UN Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Conference. He's the coordinator of a grass-roots organization at the Nuke Plant in Oakridge, Tennessee. His speech was published on their local blog, with a superb excerpt just below. Below that I've included the entire talk as well.
"...As long as the US maintains commitment to an enduring stockpile and continues to produce nuclear weapons components and upgrade facilities, we are not walking toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
It is our job, representing the voice of the people, to lay out the path and to demand, cajole, demonstrate, consult, and do everything we can to get our government on that path. In the arms control and policy communities, markers are laid down: CTBT, Fissile materials cut off treaty, new START agreement. While all are laudable goals, they are also all, for now, paper."
Posted by Frank Munger on his Atomic City Underground blog: http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/munger/2009/05/hutchisons_comments_on_nuclear.html.
Hutchison's comments on nuclear-free future
Here are the prepared comments made by Ralph Hutchison, long-time peace
activist and coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, at a
confernence at the United Nations earlier this week .
He was part of a panel, "U.S. Prospects for a Nuclear Free Future,"
associated with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Preparatory Conference.
There is a different energy today than there was when I was last here, four
years ago, and it feels good. I am not persuaded that we are yet on the road
to a nuclear free future, but I allowing myself to be more hopeful.
I have come from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the Y12 Nuclear Weapons
Complex where the United States is busy manufacturing new "secondaries" to
replace the destructive thermonuclear core of aging warheads as part of the
Life Extension Program. The effect of this work, according to one DOE
official is to extend the life of our current nuclear arsenal by as much as
100-120 years. I will say more about this program in a moment.
What happens in Oak Ridge, and the other work that this panel will describe
for you at other weapons facilities around the United States, is where we
see the truth about the United States' intentions; it is at these facilities
that nuclear policy turns from words into warheads and that is why it is
important to understand what is happening at Los Alamos, Livermore and
Sandia, Pantex, Kansas City, Savannah River, the Test Site, and Oak Ridge.
Here's why I am hopeful. In the past four months, the United States has come
clean about torture. Not enthusiastically and not completely, but we are on
a different road than we were on six months ago. And the reason, I think, is
not because we wanted to, and not even because we have suddenly become noble
or recommitted to our ideals. The reason is more practical: in order to move
forward and to achieve our foreign policy goals, it is necessary to rebuild
credibility, to regain status in the international community. And the only
way we can do that is by developing relationships of mutual within the
boundaries of international law. The US recognizes that a
do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do policy is untenable, and ultimately
counterproductive. So we have set out on a different path in order to
achieve our security goals.
This is the very same dynamic that will be required for the United States to
achieve it security goals with respect to nuclear weapons and there are
hopeful signs that the government is slowly coming to recognize that the
path we are on--maintaining an enduring nuclear arsenal, will not achieve
our security goals but instead undermines them.
President Obama's words suggest he wants to be on the path to a nuclear
weapons free world. But he can not get on that path, and people like Henry
Kissinger and Sam Nunn have realized this, he can not get on that path while
he clings to the false security of nuclear weapons. As long as the US
maintains commitment to an enduring stockpile and continues to produce
nuclear weapons components and upgrade facilities, we are not walking toward
a world free of nuclear weapons.
It is our job, representing the voice of the people, to lay out the path and
to demand, cajole, demonstrate, consult, and do everything we can to get our
government on that path. In the arms control and policy communities, markers
are laid down: CTBT, Fissile materials cut off treaty, new START agreement.
While all are laudable goals, they are also all, for now, paper.
Meanwhile, activities on the ground undermine these attempts to approach the
goal of security through international agreements, which brings me back to
my piece of the discussion: what is happening in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex
Manhattan Project, HEU for Little Boy
postwar, retooled to produce secondaries for thermonuclear
HEU, beryllium, lithium deuteride, DU, +
Life Extension Program
produces new secondaries for "upgraded" warheads
W87 (replacing W62), B61 bomb, Mods 7 & 11, and now W76
W76 upgrade produces new warhead: W76-1
W76 warhead for MK4 missile, for Trident subs
Upgrade: new (modified) fuse to allow precision detonation height
With "advanced fuzing options" the AF&F system will allowing targeteers to
set the Height of Burst (HOB) more accurately and significantly improve the
ability to hold hard targets at risk. Because 63 percent of the W76
stockpile (about 2,000 warheads) is being modified with the new fuze, the
U.S. inventory of reentry vehicles with hard target kill capability will
increase from 400 today to 2,400 in 2021.
The W76 LEP is a major overhaul of the warhead that involves changes to both
the reentry body and the warhead package: Replacing "organics" in the
primary; replacing detonators; replacing chemical high explosives;
refurbishing the secondary; adding a new Arming, Fuzing & Firing (AF&F)
system, a new gas reservoir, a new gas transfer support system, a new
lightning arrestor connector (LAC)
Tomorrow in Oak Ridge
Uranium Processing Facility, $3.4 billion production facility to replace six
aging buildings that are currently engaged in production activities with one,
new, super-secure, state-of-the-art facility.
Obviously, this heavy investment in a new production facility will be seen
by others as a provocative act. In a moment you will hear about plans for
two other production facilities--it is my belief that the road to a nuclear
free future dead ends at these bomb plants. Only if they are removed from
the path can we move forward.
US can not credibility claim compliance with Article 6--and credibility is
crucial--while investing in an enduring stockpile through life extension,
new production facilities, and "backdoor" new weapons systems.
The news that the Tritium Extraction Facility at Savannah River is being put
on hold for 10 years is a hopeful sign--it appears to be turning the
rhetoric into concrete reality. This facility cost more than half a billion
dollars to build and has operated a little more than 2 years and, according
to reports last week, will be placed on operational standby and is not
expected to be used for tritium production for ten years.
The astonishing outpouring of public sentiment against the DOE/NNSA's
Complex Transformation was also hopeful. More than 100,000 people submitted
comments on the Environmental Impact Statement and the government was forced
to back off some of its more ambitious goals.
The Bipartisan Congressional Commission will release its report on US
strategic posture this week, apparently a month late due to an inability to
come to a consensus on force structure, but according to reports, those who
argued for a reduction in US dependence on nuclear weapons and for new
reductions in the arsenal have prevailed. This perspective, which looks down
the road to a world free of nuclear weapons, continues to grow within the
Finally, I believe the hard work that grassroots groups have done over the
past two decades, when our advocacy of a world free of nuclear weapons was
considered naive or unrealistic (it was actually just the opposite) had
built a base; we have been creating an informed citizenry who are now poised
to press for action to match the encouraging rhetoric coming from the White
In our case, in Oak Ridge, we are calling for an end to funding for the Life
Extension Program, a conversion of the workforce and facilities to full-time
disassembly and dismantlement, and the abandonment of plans for the Uranium
Steve Leeper talking about nuclear disarmament
Steps to Safety: Reducing the Danger of Nuclear Weapons
(Click above for Web version of PowerPoint presentation)
by Physicians for Social Responsibility