2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: marylia@earthlink.net
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:03:28 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Subcritical Nuclear Tests
Dear colleagues: Here is an article from our newsletter on subcritical
nuclear tests. Peace, Marylia

More Subcritical Nuclear Tests Planned

by Sally Light
from Tri-Valley CAREs' May 2000 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Department of Energy (DOE) has detonated 11 underground subcritical
nuclear tests at its Nevada Test Site (NTS) since the first such test in
mid-1997. Tri-Valley CAREs, along with its colleague organizations, opposes
these tests.

A subcritical test is not a full-scale nuclear test. Fissile materials such
as plutonium are involved, but the nuclear chain reaction is halted before
it becomes self-sustaining. Each subcritical test consists of high
explosives being blown up along with plutonium, while sophisticated
monitoring equipment records the detonation in great detail. The data
gathered from the test are later fed into DOE's computers to update nuclear
weapons computer codes.

While DOE claims that these tests are performed in the cause of maintaining
the stockpile's "safety" and "reliability," Tri-Valley CAREs and others
counter that the tests, which are part of DOE's Stockpile Stewardship
program, are done to further the research and development of nuclear

Livermore Lab has prepared 7 of the 11 tests carried out so far (the other
4 were prepared by the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico). Livermore is
currently completing a series of 16 subcritical tests code-named the Oboe
series. Oboe 1 was detonated at NTS last year. Three Oboe tests have been
performed so far in this fiscal year, and reportedly up to 5 more such
tests are planned by the end of September, with the balance of the Oboe
tests to be done in fiscal year 2001.

Located on beautiful desert land belonging to the Western Shoshone Nation,
NTS is an island of pockmarked, radioactively-contaminated desolation
caused by decades of U.S. nuclear weapons testing. The subcritical tests
further degrade the environment. It was confirmed recently that plutonium
from past explosions has been moving with the area's underground aquifer
towards the NTS fence line.

Subcritical testing also has serious, negative international repercussions.
Other nations see them as proof that the U.S. has no intention of complying
with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), even though the U.S. has
signed it and has an obligation under the Treaty's Article VI to take steps
to discontinue its nuclear weapons activities and to achieve nuclear

Subcritical tests also undermine the trust among nations needed to
accomplish the sensitive international ratification now underway of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear weapons tests.
The subcritical tests by DOE have been cited by some countries as an
impediment to ratification of the CTBT.

U.S. tests have been answered by Russian subcritical tests. Russia has been
conducting subcritical tests over the last two years. We and others have
been warning the U.S. that such tests at NTS  risk starting another nuclear
arms race, or, at the very least, keep the competitive fires burning in the
style of the Cold War. We see the responsive Russian subcritical tests as
proof of that risk.

In the Bay Area, every time a subcritical test is performed, we  local
groups respond with an action at noon on the day of the test. The actions
are in San Francisco at the international headquarters of the Bechtel
Group, the corporation that holds a multi-billion dollar contract with DOE
to operate NTS. These protests are part of an international response to the
U.S. tests - actions also take place in Nevada, Japan, Australia and

Call us for more information -- or to be placed on the notification list
for actions.

Marylia Kelley
Executive Director,
Tri-Valley CAREs
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA 94550
Phone: 1-925-443-7148
Fax: 1-925-443-0177
Web site: http://www.igc.org/tvc

You can find archived listserve messages on the CPEO website at 


If this email has been forwarded to you and you'd like to subscribe, please send a message to: 

T O P I C A  The Email You Want. http://www.topica.com/t/16
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Your Favorite Topics

  Prev by Date: [CPEO-MEF] DOE/sick nuclear workers
  Prev by Thread: Re: [CPEO-MEF] DOE/sick nuclear workers

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index