Sunday, December 17, 2006

Don Williams New Column

Yes, my wording was strong in last week's column, you might even say apocalyptic. I don't apologize. If we go along with our government's plans to build new generations of nuclear weapons, we're contributing to the possible demise of civilization, if not all life on the planet, one day, not to mention near-term health and environmental issues.

To recap: The News-Sentinel reported five weeks ago that officials are preparing an environmental impact statement for release this month, "to support construction of new Oak Ridge facilities - including a $500 million storage center for bomb-grade uranium and a proposed $1 billion uranium manufacturing facility."

More controversial nationally is Complex 2030, a planned nuclear weapons complex to be located in the United States, possibly New Mexico, which would begin pre-production work on new generations of nuclear weapons and also serve as the main storage site for plutonium.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is taking comments through Jan. 17, 2007, and - as I stated last week - I believe it's important that the public oppose these plans by sending an e-mail to They're asking for our comments, so please, say no to new nukes.

I realize this is an issue about which reasonable people may disagree. As a few readers pointed out last week, the Complex 2030 proposal would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in this country over the short term by retiring so-called unreliable nukes that were built during the Cold War. The complex would recycle some components - mostly the nuclear portions - into new weapons-grade materials, while storing or destroying other components.

But in the words of Thomas P. D'Agostino, deputy administrator for defense programs for the NNSA, who testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces on April 5, 2006, the program would also do the following:

  • "Ensure needed warheads are available to augment the operationally deployed force."
  • "Design, develop, certify, and begin production of refurbished or replacement warheads."
  • "Maintain capability to design, develop, and begin production of new or adapted warheads."
  • "Produce required quantities of warheads."
  • "Sustain adequate underground nuclear test readiness."

    D'Agostino further told the committee, "The center would have a baseline production capacity of 125 pits per year net to the stockpile by 2022 comparable to what we had during the Cold War." Pits are the plutonium hearts of nuclear warheads. The plan calls for an interim ability by 2012 to produce "30-50 war reserve pits per year continuing until the center can meet the needs of the stockpile," said D'Agostino, whose testimony is available on the NNSA website.

    To me this sounds like a plan to heavily produce and stockpile new generations of weapons. Dick Cheney and others have lobbied for a variety of new nukes over the years.

    East Tennessee figures prominently in building up arsenals that could one day kill millions or billions of people. To D'Agostino, the prospect of maintaining this capacity amounts to good news.

    The program is being sold on the premise that our nuclear stockpiles, and especially those plutonium pits, are rapidly deteriorating. However, as Walter Pincus wrote in The Washington Post on Nov. 30, a team of scientists at NNSA has concluded those pits will remain reliable for another century without upgrading. To me, this calls the program into question. Already we have thousands of nukes. Sure, we should support dismantling unreliable ones and begin letting the arsenal shrink by attrition, at least. After all, how many nukes does one country need?

    In 1968, we signed a treaty that said we'd work to stop building and stockpiling new nuclear weapons. No, we can't disarm immediately, but we should work toward the long-term goal of a world that doesn't bristle with nuclear weapons. Instead, we appear headed in the opposite direction. To finance new modern facilities for producing new nukes in violation of international law, even as we punish others for hinting they might follow our example?

    Please, don't be a party to it. Lodge your protest now.

    Don Williams is the founding editor of New Millennium Writings. You may write to him at P.O. Box 2463, Knoxville, TN 37901, e-mail him at or phone him at 428-0389.


    ยบ¿carol said...

    MarketWatch - Dec 15, 2006
    The US Army is considering taking measures to force striking workers to return to work at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) plant in Kansas in order to prevent a shortage of tires for military vehicles, the Financial Times reported on its Web site ...

    Well, hell yeah! Don't force the company to give in to the strikers!

    David B. Benson said...

    DoE is one of the most dysfunctional of government agencies.

    This looks to be just finding make-work, so that highly paid civil servants can receive a promotion and become even more highly paid.

    Also notice that DoE has a bonus program to make sure that top employees are richly rewarded.

    DEN said...

    Just what we need more government dysfunction!
    Especially the keepers of "The Bomb"
    I know I'll sleep better, NOT!

    Jeanne said...

    Hey, what did you all think when you found out WE are being named 'Person of the Year'?

    DEN said...

    Kind of a cop out, supposed to be a "Person of the Year" , not the whole friggin internet blogosphere.

    Sheese! The only Time I read Time is if all the other magazines in the Doctors office are taken.

    But them I'm a fuss.

    Jeanne said...

    I agree with Time. I really do. The WE in this nation stood up and the WE demanded change. The American people changed and it became apparent to the Republicans this year. We told Time and Newsweek and ABC and CBS and NBC and of course Faux news where to go. We found our own avenues for news. WE made our voice heard. For the first time in a long time WE made a difference.

    DEN said...

    Good point Jeanne, I never thought about it that way.

    If the government hates it, it has to be good for us.

    DEN said...

    Nasa Channel #213 on Dish has an earth fly by going that is awesome.<:)}

    Micki said...

    Been to a few holiday festivities this weekend -- impeachment talk over wine, cheese, and other fat-laden finger foods. Most people attending were progressives, liberals, liberal progressives, or progressive liberals...most people said about impeachment, fergitaboutit! Impeachment would not result in a conviction and removal from office, so what's the point?

    The Constitution's general outlines: The Chief Justice presides over the trial (hello! that would be John Roberts); a two-thirds majority is required to convict for "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors"; conviction is followed by removal from office and, if the Senate chooses, disqualification from any future office of "honor, trust or profit under the United States."

    Does anyone in his/her right mind believe that with a hair's breadth majority by the Democrats that they could get 66 (SIXTY-SIX!) votes in the Senate to convict???

    Waste of time. The process would piss off the majority of voters.

    Get real. Forget about impeachment. Go for international war crimes and violation of U.S. treaty agreements. I can't believe so many smart people are so short-sighted.

    Micki said...

    Jeanne, I think it made sense, according to their criteria, that Time picked you and me and Den and Carol and Carey and Alan and O'Reilly and Hajji and Gerald and Atrios and Dailykos and Dr. Benson et al as "Person(s) of the Year."

    The blogosphere, for better or for worse, has made a huge impact -- it has impacted millions of people, again for better or for worse. We have to remember that one doesn't have to be a good person to get the "person of the year" award. Hitler got it.

    It's not the first time, Time didn't name an individual -- in 1966, the 25-and-under generation was cited; in 1975, American women were named; and in 1982, the computer was chosen.

    But, with that said, I think that Time named "YOU" because they copped out this year -- they didn't want to pick one of the a**holes who've impacted millions (billions) of people -- bush, rummy, cheney, Ahmadinejad, Pope Benedict.

    Micki said...

    I still prefer to get my news and information from one of the dinosaurs, such as ABC News, The New Yorker, The Nation.

    They're still more reliable than most blogs in my book

    erling krange said...

    Just back from a couple of days shopping in Denmark. Shopping consist of: Bacon (half prize compared to Norway), Irish Whiskey, rum, and some good wines.
    We went to the city of Aarhus bringing with us two of our grandchildren. In Aarhus, there is a museum made up by old buildings, 150 - 250 years old, set up like a small township. Every yar before Christmas, there is a "Christmas Market" where you can buy gifts like handycraft and other stuff. Nice place, nice trip!