Six UC students and three community members were forcefully dragged from the UC Regents board meeting on Thursday by police after they informed the Regents that they would not allow the board to convene its DOE lab oversight committee, the Regents’ body in charge of UC’s nuclear weapons research, design, and manufacturing labs in Los Alamos, New Mexico and Livermore, California.
Beginning with the public comment period at the start of the Regents meeting the group which calls itself the Coalition to Demilitarize read a statement explaining why they believed it is imperative that business as usual at the labs be stopped. One student from UC Santa Barbara presented a project to the Regents being undertaken at her campus. “We’re trying to fold 10,000 paper cranes, one for every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. A UC employee designed each of these. Each is made by the Regents,” she explained. “It’s really hard to fold 10,000 of these cranes [implying that the Regents 10,000 nuclear weapons is an astonishingly large number],” she said while dumping several bags of them – about 500 – on the floor. “We’d like your help in folding them,” she said to the Regents. None of the Regents accepted the invitation.
After the public comment the Regents began discussing university finance matters and plans related to scaling back the employee pension. When Chair of the Regents Gerald Parsky attempted to convene the DOE Lab Oversight Committee, the Regent committee responsible for the nuclear weapons labs at Los Alamos and Livermore the students began to clap and chant. Regent Noman Pattiz laughed at the protestors and mockced them by pretending that the clapping was in support of the UC nuclear weapons labs.
The Regents wasted little time in sneaking out of the room through the back. While they were leaving the protestors invited them to dialogue about their demands, but kept firm that they would not allow business as usual to continue. The protestors pointed out that new developments such as US threats of using nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea, the new US nuclear weapons program – called the Reliable Replacement Warhead, UC’s for-profit business partnership with the Bechtel Corporation, and the likely resumption of manufacturing of plutonium bomb pits at the Los Alamos Lab has created a crisis situation in which they feel it is their responsibility to do whatever they can to prevent the UC Regents from facilitating nuclear militarism.
None of the Regents or their staff took the protestors up on the offer to dialogue. Police officers and security then descended upon the protestors, pulling them apart, handcuffing them, and dragging them from the room one by one.
THE EMERGING CRISIS: Why We Mobilize for the November 16 UC Regents Meeting
As a manager of the nation's two nuclear weapons research and design laboratories, the University of California is a central player in a political and ecological crisis that is threatening catastrophe. The subtext of North Korea’s October 7th nuclear weapons test is that, in a far more dangerous development, the United States government is redesigning and upgrading every nuclear weapon in its arsenal. This program is being carried out in relative obscurity at the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore laboratory in northern California, by scientists whose status as employees of the UC provides a thin veneer of academic credibility to their preparations for nuclear war.
The dangerous consequences of the brazen nuclearism that continues to characterize US foreign policy – 16 years following the end of the Cold War – manifested this past April when investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed the Bush administration's plan to use so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons in a potential aerial assault against Iran. The type of nuclear weapon in question, the B61-11, was designed by UC employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the mid-‘90s, without Congressional approval. Last month, the US subsequently deployed the nuclear-armed USS Eisenhower and other warships to the Straight of Hormuz outside of Iran, prompting the former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges to predict that war with Iran – a nuclear war -- would occur before the end of the Bush presidency.
As students and alumni of the UC, we can no longer consider these developments with a sense of equanimity. We feel compelled to take action. We will not act meekly, but rather with the sense of righteousness and refusal these circumstances require of us.
Nuclear weapons have been part of our world for over 61 years. During this time, the United States of America has, by almost any measure, been the chief proliferator of the Bomb. It has tested atomic weapons 1,054 times (mostly on the land of indigenous peoples), maintains an arsenal of approximately 10,000 plutonium bombs and warheads, spends roughly $40 billion each year on nuclear weaponry, oversees a bulky national nuclear weapons complex infrastructure (spread across the continental US), has threatened the offensive use of these weapons nearly 40 times since 1946, and is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons in war: twice, against a non-nuclear nation.
How is it possible for the UC students, faculty, staff, and administrators who are aware of their university’s connections with the nuclear weapons labs to remain silent in the face of these injustices, supported by their very own University of California?
We call on our fellow members of the UC community to join us in demanding that the Regents stop bombing away our future. In doing so, we note that the thin, illusory margin of credibility the UC once maintained in its role as weapons lab manager no longer exists. This is particularly so given two recent developments:
- The UC Regents have recently entered into a for-profit business partnership to operate these weapons labs with the Bechtel Corporation, one of the most corrupt and secretive corporations in the world.
- The UC-managed labs are researching and designing the next generation of U.S. nuclear weapons under the auspices of the misleadingly-named “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program. The Los Alamos laboratory is now preparing to manufacture the central component for these weapons, the plutonium pit. By 2008, Los Alamos is scheduled to begin producing the pits for the new arsenal, which the federal National Nuclear Security Administration has requested be more “flexible and responsive” so that it may better serve future U.S. nuclear weapons “missions.”
We will tolerate business as usual no more. The nuclear status quo is intolerable for the University of California, for the people of the world, and for future generations.
We demand the following:
1. that the University of California Board of Regents sever their ties with the nuclear weapons laboratories at Livermore and Los Alamos; 2. that the Regents issue a public statement in opposition to the insanity of US nuclear weapons policy, and 3. that the Regents lobby the federal government, in the interest of true national security, to build a new, federally-funded sustainable energy research laboratory, with said funding to be transferred from the budgets of the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore laboratories. Any serious national research effort toward sustainability must be fully autonomous from militarized institutions like the weapons labs.
Until they meet our demands, we will prevent the Regents from effectively carrying out their duty as managers of potential Armageddon.
- US Nuclear Policy: The US Nuclear Posture Review, alongside other policy statements, has called for the production of a more “reliable” and “flexible” arsenal, a new commitment to a First Strike policy, and the targeting of both “rogue states” and “non-state actors.” Put simply, key US military and political leaders are talking about using nuclear weapons on nations like Iran and North Korea, as well as against “terrorists” in remote and secured hideaways. Notably, President Bush’s nomination to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the head of the Pentagon has recommended using nuclear weapons on North Korea.
- Bi-Partisan Nuclearism: These developments reflect not the excesses of a particularly nasty presidential administration, but the core of US foreign policy. The hard line of use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is touted by many in both major political parties, and it enjoys the support of the powerful arms industry lobby.
- Pit Production in Context: The plutonium bomb pits being produced by UC employees at the Los Alamos lab are the first our nation has manufactured since 1989. The UC, for its part, has not manufactured plutonium pits since 1949.
- Corporate Corruption: The University of California’s partners in this bomb manufacturing enterprise, Bechtel Corporation and two other nuclear/military-industrial firms, are deeply committed to the perpetuation of US nuclearism, through their involvement with other aspects of the US nuclear chain (nuclear waste clean-up, nuclear testing, nuclear power, etc.).
- Obligation to Disarm: If the US chose to, it could help lead the world toward nuclear abolition. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), ratified in 1970, has failed to bring about nuclear disarmament almost entirely because the nuclear weapons states -- most notably the U.S. -- ignore the obligation under the NPT to disarm.
- The UC's Refusal to Demilitarize: In recent years a coalition of students, faculty, staff and community organizations* has conveyed repeatedly that our University’s reputation and institutional power could serve as a guiding light toward a nuclear weapons-free world. U.S. society's collective wealth and technological prowess have for too long been harnessed toward irrational destruction and exploitative power. With that in mind, we have asked the Regents to reorient the University toward research programs in the interest of true national security: energy independence, ecological sustainability, and health sciences. In this time we have been met mostly with disinterest, ignorance, and hostility by many of the Regents, especially the men (they are all men) who sit on the DOE Labs Oversight Committee.
For more than 40 years, UC faculty have also attempted to exert influence in the management of the labs and have recommend on several occasions that the UC withdraw from the labs. The Regents have consistnetly ignored this advice, while maintaining their exclusive control over the UC’s relationship to the bomb design and manufacturing enterprise. In short, the Regents have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unaccountable and autocratic.
- The Need to Act: The time to negotiate politely with the UC Regents regarding their crucial support for our collective global state of nuclear terror is now long past. Recognizing that some of the most powerful members of the Board of Regents benefit from the production of nuclear weapons and the uses to which they are put; that in the past certain members of the Regents have profited from this enterprise; and that many of them are ideologically committed to the violence and exploitation that nuclear weapons represent, we have concluded that the Board of Regents is beyond reasoning with. The anti-democratic governing structure of the University, which centralizes all power in the hands of these 26 appointed economic elites, is unequipped to respond in the face of the critical decisions that must be made if the UC is to evolve into a force for positive change in the world.
We cannot in good conscience allow the Regents to continue making decisions that are contrary to the interests of the university, the people of California and the United States, and the peace and security of the world. A time of crisis is at hand. We seek only for our actions to be commensurate with the scale of this crisis.
- Democratizing the UC: Although we will act on Thursday first and foremost in the name of nonviolence and nuclear disarmament, we note also that we support other demands that may be pressed upon the Regents when they meet at UC Los Angeles this week. These include a living wage and generous pension for clerical and service workers throughout the UC system, a reversal of student fee increases, restoration of fully-funded outreach and retention programs and modifications to the admissions process to ensure a racially and economically just UC system, the recruitment of a more diverse faculty, the adoption of more ecologically sustainable programs, and the reorganizing of UC’s financial portfolios so that our wealth is invested in a socially responsible manner. We believe that the impasses and injustices represented in many of these areas is due in no small part to the same lack of democracy in the UC’s governing structure that compels us to act here today. We hope that in these areas the Regents’ vision is clearer and that they act with far greater moral clarity.
*The Coalition to Demilitarize the UC represents students, staff and faculty at each UC campus along with community organizations that work in the shadow of the labs.
by Daniel Young
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006 at 9:33 PM
I appreciate the courageous action of the UC Demilitarization activists. They are hoping to prevent us from destroying ourselves, and ought to be admired and applauded. Instead, they are maced, arrested, and brutalized (UCSC Tent U) by UC law enforcement. The police state is fighting for its survival. Civil disobedience, and nonviolent protest is the fastest way to acheive the goal of demilitairazation, at UC. Stay on course, and you will save us all. Thank you, from a Veteran for Peace.
the young people that have been brave enough to throw themselves on the gears of this far beyond odious machine need to be backed by all of you rich baby boomers , now is your chance to redeem yourselves for allowing bill clinton and george bush to happen. stand beside your kids in the streets
As a California and federal taxpayer, the first thing I noticed about these pictures is the gorgeous ambiance of this meeting of this gang of murderers, which is what all promoters of nuclear weapons are. They are sitting on expensive chairs in a nicely carpeted meeting room with a huge screen. These are not the usual plastic or folding chairs, and the very nice carpet and huge screen are simply unheard of in the average meeting hall. There must have been some palm-greasing for some administrator in the UC system to make this possible.
I suggest you take your demands to the workers at UC who are in constant conflict with these cheap parasites and ask that they add these demands to their economic demands. After all, if there is a nuclear holocaust, there are certainly no jobs. UC's claim to fame as far as labor is concerned is that they pay very poorly, while the administrators skim the cream off the top, courtesy the taxpayers and those who can afford to pay some $6,000 a year to attend UC. We need to see some serious statewide student-labor strikes to put an end to the nuclear research and to raise workers' wages. That is the only way anything will change. It is a class issue. These Regents are members or lackeys of the capitalist class which profits both from promoting war and low wages.
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