2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: marylia@earthlink.net
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 16:34:41 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] NIF: Amendment-Urgent-Call Your Rep. Today
Greetings peace and environmental advocates. THIS IS A PRIORITY REQUEST.
Cutting the funding for the National Ignition Facility is possible if we
make a strong effort during the next 2 days (Tuesday and Wednesday). There
is a good coalition in place working to bring this amendment to the floor,
but we need grassroots support to make phone calls to ask for Members of
Congress to support and co-sponsor this amendment. There will be
educational materials distributed to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday, but
calls from constituents are absolutely essential. (Apologies for duplicates
of this message where lists overlap -- but getting the word out is
crucial!) Here is the info you need to make that call...


Representative Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin and Representative Dennis Kucinich
(D) Ohio will be introducing a floor amendment this week, possible as soon
as Tuesday, June 27th. This amendment will cut $74 million in construction
funding for the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The NIF is a nuclear
weapons project and will promote nuclear proliferation. The plan would be
to take the money from NIF construction and apply it to beneficial
Department of Energy cleanup programs.

Please call your representative and ask them Co-sponsor and support the
Ryan/Kucinich amendment. If you do not know your representative's number
then call
the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. This is not a partisan issue,
please contact both Democrat and Republican offices to cosponsor.

Ask your Representative's staff to contact Leah Braesch in Ryan's office to
sign-on to the amendment to cut NIF. The phone number for Ryan's office is
(202) 225-3031.

This is a really important opportunity, and can make a big difference in
our efforts to stop NIF. Please make this a priority and call the Alliance
for Nuclear Accountability's DC office at (202) 833-4668 to let us know who
you've contacted.

This action alert is sponsored by a coalition of environmental, peace and
fiscal watchdog groups including Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. PIRG,
Tri-Valley CAREs, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Friends of the
Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Natural Resources
Defense Council. Please pass it on to other friendly lists you may have.


The National Ignition Facility Ignites controversy and Skyrocketing Costs
but not Ignition

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is a partially built stadium size
laser facility at the Lawrence Livermore Lab (LLNL) in Livermore,

NIF is the most expensive project in the DOE's Stockpile Stewardship
nuclear weapons program. Its stated purpose is to simulate the conditions
inside the later stages of a nuclear weapon explosion by fusing atoms at
pressures and temperatures
that obtain a net gain of energy. This process is known as thermonuclear
ignition. Information gained from these experiments is useful for
understanding and potentially improving weapons design. There is a fine but
crucial line between maintaining current weapons capabilities and creating
new weapons designs. New nuclear weapons designs may ignite a new arms

Massive cost overruns have transformed NIF into a fiscal black hole
siphoning enormous amounts of money from many DOE programs. In the last
five years, due to ongoing technical problems and reprehensible management
practices, NIF's estimated construction and operation costs over its
life-cycle have doubled from 5 Billion to 10 Billion, threatening the
funding for other DOE programs and facilities.

In a highly unusual official statement, the Sandia National Laboratory
publicly criticized NIF's budgetary overruns and called for a reduction in
NIF's funding and laser structure.

Basic Questions about NIF's fundamental purpose, it's chances of achieving
ignition and its engineering problems should be further scrutinized. Before
this occurs, we must first halt construction. The construction budget of 74
million and Energy Secretary Richardson's supplemental construction request
of 95 million should be cut now, during NIF's reevaluation.

NIF is Plagued by Technical and Design Problems

NIF' Optics are Subject to Frequent Blowouts:
As each laser beam is convered to ultraviolet (the 3rd harmonic), it
damages the very expensive final optics components, causing them to explode
after only a few dozen experiments. This problem could take a decade or
more and many millions of dollars to resolve. Further, its resolution at
any price is uncertain.

Target Material TBA:
At the meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Task Force
on NIF on Dec. 13, 1999, Lab scientists revealed they have not yet found a
material to make ignition capable targets - BB-sized pellets that will hold
the frozen radioactive fuel for thermonuclear ignition.

Diagnostics are Priceless:
Also at the SEAB Task Force, it was revealed that NIF's diagnostics have
not been designed and will only be partially designed by 2003. Diagnostics
show researchers what is actually going on in a NIF explosion, without
which there will be no data. Diagnostic costs are not included in most of
NIF's rising cost estimates.

No Ignition at the National Ignition Facility???
Even Livermore lab's NIF project manager Ed Moses, stated his reservations
about the chances of achieving ignition "the goal of achieving ignition is
a longshot" (San Jose Mercury News 11/16/99). The General Accounting Office
(GAO) report scheduled for release in June, 2000 may specify half and
quarter size options for NIF. A NIF with half or quarter lasers reduces the
possibility of ignition exponentially.

A dangerous CATCH-22

NIF is purported to eliminate the need for nuclear testing but upon closer
inspection it may eventually lead to the necessity for future nuclear
tests. Despite DOE's statement that NIF is essential to the maintenance of
the nuclear arsenal, many experts have concurred that NIF has almost no
relevance to its stated goal of maintaining the safety and reliability of
the current stockpile. Edward Teller, known as the father of the atomic
bomb, was asked about the NIF's usefulness to maintaining nuclear weapons,
he replied "None whatsoever" (Contra Costa Times 5/14/00). Furthermore, Los
Alamos theoretical weapon physicist, Rod Schultz, wrote that NIF's touted
importance to the weapons stockpile "does not reflect the technical
judgment of the nuclear weapons design community." (Albuquerque Tribune

NIF would, however, enhance the capability for design of new nuclear
weapons and modification of existing weapons. If NIF is realized, lab
directors may soon point out that some of the new, modified, nuclear
weapons cannot be reliably certified without full scale nuclear testing,
thus providing the rationale for future nuclear testing. This is in stark
contrast of NIF's stated purpose of eliminating the need for nuclear

In Sum...
Due to massive cost overruns, NIF has become a financial drain on other
programs at the DOE.

After multi-year construction and schedule delays, NIF may be built at half
or quarter scale, which would likely preclude the attainment of its stated
goal of ignition.

NIF is unnecessary, it only adds to the risk of a potential arms race.

NIF may necessitate full scale nuclear testing by altering weapon designs
that cannot be otherwise certified.

As costs and timelines are pushed off into the horizon, NIF's budget is
ballooning with no end in sight. Engineering problems and scientific
uncertainties leave no responsible option other than cutting all funding
for construction until the program is adequately reevaluated.

Bottom line:
Call your Representative today and ask him/her to co-sponsor and vote for
the Ryan/Kucinich ammendment to cut NIF construction.

Marylia Kelley
Tri-Valley CAREs
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA USA 94550

<http://www.igc.org/tvc/> - is our web site, please visit us there!

(925) 443-7148 - is our phone
(925) 443-0177 - is our fax

Working for peace, justice and a healthy environment since 1983, Tri-Valley
CAREs has been a member of the nation-wide Alliance for Nuclear
Accountability in the U.S. since 1989, and is a co-founding member of the
Abolition 2000 global network for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the
U.S. Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Back From the Brink
campaign to get nuclear weapons taken off hair-trigger alert.

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