Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Successful blockade at nuclear weapon base Buchel/Udall needs to rethink huge spending on B61

http://www.nonukes.nl/en/news/succesful-blockade-at-nuclear-weapon-base-buchel Successful blockade at nuclear weapon base Buchel Today a group from IKV Pax Christi is joining the blockade of the German military base Büchel that hosts US nuclear weapons. Every gate of the base has been blocked since 11.55h this morning by non-violent activists from all over the world. Every gate is supporting the “Rhythm Beats Bombs”message with musical performances. Krista van Velzen, nuclear disarmament campaigner at IKV Pax Christi: 'We join this 24 hour long blockade to show solidarity with the German peace movement. Just as in the Netherlands, Germany hosts 20 American B61 nuclear weapons at the air base. Although the German government said they wanted to send them back, there are still at Büchel, this is the reason why it is necessary to protest. The nuclear weapons in Germany will be modernised in the upcoming years, just like the weapons at Volkel (the Netherlands). This modernisation costs more than 1 billion dollars, which means that these nuclear weapons will cost more than their weight in gold'. The IKV Pax Christi peace activists handed out cheese at the blockade. Benthe van de Pol, today Frau Antje: 'Cheese not nukes is our message, of course it is a joke, but with a serious undertone: it is bizarre that plans are being made to place new nuclear weapons in Germany and the Netherlands'. http://www.abqjournal.com/243904/opinion/udall-needs-to-rethink-huge-spending-on-b61.html Udall needs to rethink huge spending on B61 Daryl Kimball / Executive Director, Arms Control Association and Jay Coghlan / Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico President Barack Obama and the Pentagon announced on July 19 that they have determined that the United States can reduce the size of the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal by one-third while ensuring a strong nuclear deterrent. The president also said he will seek “bold’ reductions in tactical nuclear bombs along with Russia. At the same time, Congress has directed the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration to achieve some $500 billion in defense-related budget cuts over the next decade. Unfortunately, his National Nuclear Security Administration and the nuclear weapons labs do not seem to have gotten the message. The NNSA is aggressively planning a “life extension program” for 400 B61 nuclear bombs, 180 of which are deployed in NATO countries. According to a Pentagon audit, the cost of upgrading about 300 units of the tactical version and about 100 of the strategic version of the warhead has exploded from $4 billion to more than $10 billion. That makes the cost of each bomb twice its weight in gold. Earlier this year, Obama requested $537 million for the B61 life extension in FY 2014 (a 45 percent increase), which the House approved. But over in the Senate, appropriators cut that by $168 million. Congress can and should enforce greater budgetary and design discipline for the ambitious B61 program. For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, said in April that NNSA has studied another option for the B61 life extension program that would cost billions less. This option, known as the triple alteration or “triple-alt,” would replace only three key bomb parts that are said to be nearing the end of their useful lives in the next ten years: the bomb’s neutron generator, power source and radar system. This plan would extend the life of B61 bombs for another 10 years, according to NNSA, and would cost approximately $3 billion, according to the Defense Department. Unfortunately, New Mexico’s Sen. Tom Udall has been pushing for the gold-plated, $10 billion version of the B61 bomb. Earlier this year, he threatened to vote against the entire $35 billion Energy and Water Appropriations bill unless measures were included to possibly restore that money, later saying that he wanted to protect 200 jobs in New Mexico. Worse, the gold-plated plan Udall and the Los Alamos and Sandia labs are seeking would also give the B61 significant new military capabilities. Proposed new tail fin guidance kits would transform the B61 into the world’s first nuclear “smart” bomb for delivery on the new, stealthy, and costly F35 bomber. With the end of the Cold War, there is still no identifiable threat that would justify this expensive and potentially provocative new military capability. The NNSA says its main goal is simply to refurbish the nuclear and nonnuclear components to assure extended service life, and improve the safety, reliability, and security of the bomb. However, there are better ways to achieve goals of maintaining safety, security and reliability of the B61 at lower cost. Safety has far more do with how the weapons are handled rather than the bombs themselves. Better security can be achieved by withdrawing the United States’ B61 bomb from the European air bases, where they serve no military role for NATO’s defense. When Congress reconvenes this fall, the House and Senate will have to reconcile differences in their budget allocations for the B61 program. Udall should take a closer look at the costly B61 life extension program, support less expensive alternatives and encourage mission and jobs diversification at the labs. But most of all, he needs to do more to prevent the labs from designing new military capabilities into existing nuclear weapons. Unnecessary and expensive improvements to U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities make it all the more difficult to pressure other countries not to acquire them. Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal | Albuquerque, N.M. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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