By Kristin Scheer
ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, has identified 50 US schools that are complicit in the production of nuclear weapons. Their activities, says the ICAN report, range from “managing labs that design nuclear weapons to recruiting and training the next generation of nuclear scientists.” ICAN identifies them as “schools of mass destruction.” You can find the list at Download the Report – Schools Of Mass Destruction (icanw.org).
According to ICAN’s website, “Much of the universities’ nuclear weapons work is kept secret from students and faculty by classified research policies and undisclosed contracts with the Defense Department and the Energy Department.” The study bolsters ICAN efforts to promote both the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and grassroots efforts to end nuclear arms production and proliferation.
Ann Suellentrop, MS, RN, a leader of PeaceWorks-KC and the local project director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, sent e-mails or letters to these “schools of mass destruction” recently: Kansas State University in Manhattan; Metropolitan Community College in KC MO; Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS; University of Kansas in Lawrence; University of Missouri at Columbia; University of Missouri-KC; and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“These are schools that have a special relationship with the National Security Campus in Kansas City at Botts Road,” Ann says, “where 85 percent of all the nonradioactive parts for nuclear weapons in the US are produced.” In exchange for cash contributions, they mine the student body for skilled labor, IT, tech support, and other talent to staff their facilities, she says.
In Ann’s letters she writes, “as awareness of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons spreads, attention will be drawn to those institutions that fall outside the bounds of international law!” She tells the schools, “You will be called on to take action. I am hoping you will not wait for those pressures to build, but will instead be anxious to stand on the right side of history and will take immediate action to extricate (your school) from any and all activities that support the production of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.”
Ann concludes, “You have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership at the very point that science and morals come together. I urge you to step forward to make decisions on behalf of your university, and contact your colleagues at other Schools of Mass Destruction to urge Collective Action.”
Persons interested in further contacts with the universities may contact Ann at email@example.com.
—Kristin Scheer serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors and is a former Greenpeace activist.