Subcritical Test at Nevada Test Site

JULY 1st, 1997



WHEN: Tuesday, July 1st, 1997. 4 - 6 p.m.
WHERE: Foley Federal Building, 300 South Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas NV

WHAT: A coalition of local organizations and activists who blockaded the main entrance to the Department of Energy headquarters in Las Vegas for over eleven hours yesterday, will gather for a nonviolent vigil to raise public awareness and protest against the subcritical nuclear weapons test "Rebound" scheduled for Wednesday, July 2. A coalition of local organizations and activists who blockaded the main entrance to the Department of Energy headquarters in Las Vegas for over eleven hours yesterday, will gather for a nonviolent vigil at the Foley Federal Building to protest the first in a series of "subcritical" underground nuclear tests planned for the Nevada Test Site (NTS) that day.

The test, code-named "Rebound," sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, will be the first underground nuclear test explosion carried out by the United States since October 1992, when President George Bush declared a moratorium on such tests. A second test, code-named "Holog," sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is expected later this year.

"Wake up people in Las Vegas," Sayís Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone Spiritual Leader. "In the future everyone will be suffering from these nuclear tests. My people have suffered since they began this in 1951 out at the Nevada Test Site. All the plant life, animal life, air and water around here has been effected. We donít need no more tests. We need to spend that money cleaning up the land and taking care of the people."

"Contamination from the Test Site is much worse then what the DOE is telling the public," stated Julia Moon Sparrow, of Shundahai Network, one of the protesters who spent the night at the D.O.E.. "We are willing to continue to put our bodies on the line to stop the subcritical nuclear tests, end nuclear waste shipments and close down the Nevada Test Site on to protect the health of all life on earth from future contamination."

On September 24, 1996, President Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), committing the U.S., "not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion..." The CTBT does not define a nuclear test, but is understood to ban nuclear explosions with measurable yields. DOE claims that the subcritical experiments are allowed under the CTBT and are necessary to maintain the "safety and reliability"of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

"These tests have nothing to do with safety. They are intended to signal to the rest of the world an unflagging U.S. commitment to nuclear weapons as the ultimate big stick," charged Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland. "The so-called subcritical tests should be called 'hypocritical' tests. They clearly violate the spirit, if not the letter of the CTBT, and they will weaken the integrity of the Treaty, which was historically intended to prevent further modernization of nuclear weapons and, in fact, to lead to their elimination. The safest nuclear weapon is one that does not exist. Next best, is one that is disassembled, stored and monitored under international safeguards -- not one that is being tinkered with underground."

The subcritical tests are a small part of the huge "Stockpile Stewardship and Management" program, intended to maintain and expand all current U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities well into the 21st century. Over the next decade the U.S. plans to invest $40 billion in the program -- more in constant dollars than DOE's Cold War annual spending average for nuclear weapons research, development, testing, production and disassembly. Each subcritical test will cost at least $15 - $20 million, and the pricetag is expected to rise.

Two years ago, worldwide outrage against the resumption of French underground nuclear tests in the Pacific lead to early cancellation of the French test series and completion of negotiations on the CTBT. International public pressure has postponed the U.S. subcritical nuclear weapons tests for over a year.

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