To : abolitionists in the United States
From: Bruce Hall at Greenpeace
Date: May 28, 1997
Re : important letter for you to sign on to
Enclosed you'll find a letter regarding the subcritical experiments that we will be delivering to targeted Senators next week. We make the case that these experiments are a step in the wrong direction and unnecessary to boot. We urge their cancellation and highlight the need to close the Nevada Test Site. We ask the senators to deliver this message to the president on our behalf.
One of the best, and now last, chances we have to actually cancel
these experiments for Senators to contact President Clinton. You can
sign on by emailing me at Please
include your name, title, and organization. Also, please make an
effort to get one or two other groups, perhaps outside our usual disarmament allies, to sign on to this letter.
Look for more fun-filled information and ideas on subcriticals
coming out of Washington in the coming days.
June 2, 1997
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
We strongly oppose the Department of Energy's plans to begin a series of subcritical, nuclear weapons-related experiments at the Nevada Test
Site this June. We are not convinced that these controversial experiments are immediately needed to maintain the existing nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile. A number of eminent scientists, including the prestigious JASON group, share this view. Furthermore, we believe that these tests will be detrimental to U.S. efforts to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to secure the international implementation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The United States will set the pace for future progress on nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation. In our view conducting underground
experiments involving chemical high explosives and nuclear
weapons-grade plutonium at the nation's nuclear test site is a
provocative step in the wrong direction. The tests send the message
that the United States is more interested in advancing our nuclear
weapons expertise than in advancing a non-proliferation and disarmament agenda.
Worse, the subcritical experiments set a dangerous precedent for other nations to conduct similar experiments and will make the challenging
task of verifying the CTBT more difficult. For instance, Russia and
China could feel free to conduct underground explosive experiments at
their Novaya Zemlya and Lop Nor test sites. How can we be sure that
such tests would not be used for new nuclear weapons development or
would not violate the zero-yield CTBT?
The recently released JASON review of the first two subcritical
experiments, commissioned by the Department of Energy, states that
"there is no claim that the data from these experiments are needed
immediately as part of the Science Based Stockpile Stewardship and
Management Program in order to retain confidence in the reliability
and performance of the U.S. stockpile..." (1). This review also makes
a strong case that the plutonium data nuclear weapons scientists hope
to obtain in these underground experiments can be obtained through the
conduct of above ground experiments. The JASONs went on to recommend
that "an independent review process should also address the scientific
importance and cost-effectiveness of proposed subcritical
experiments." We have yet to see such a review take place.
The best course builds on the success of the CTBT, now signed by over
140 countries including all five declared nuclear powers. President
Clinton should cancel the subcritical experiments and establish a global standard against conducting nuclear weapons activities at nuclear test sites. Furthermore, the United States could demonstrate its commitment to upholding this emerging CTBT regime by seeking agreement with Russia and China to permanently close the world's remaining nuclear test sites - Nevada Test Site, Novaya Zemlya, and Lop Nor. France has closed its nuclear test sites in the South Pacific. The United Kingdom utilized the Nevada Test Site.
Dear Senator blah:
We urge you to deliver this message to the President on our behalf.
Nuclear Disarmament Campaign
Robert W. Tiller
Director of Security Programs
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Nuclear Abolition Campaign Coordinator
Peace Action Education Fund
Note: "Subcritical Experiments," S. Drell et. al., JASON, the MITRE
Corporation, March 1997, JSR-97-300.
Greenpeace Nuclear Disarmament Campaign
1436 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
202 319 2514
Fax 202 462 4507
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