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University of California Students Establish Nuclear Weapons Lab Oversight Committee

by fiat pax Tuesday, May. 01, 2007 at 9:08 PM

An Official Student Government Body, the Committee’s Mission is to Provide More Democratic and Open Supervision of UC’s Nuclear Weapons Labs and Ensure US Compliance With NPT Treaty Obligation of Disarmament

Santa Barbara, April 27, 2007 – In a unanimous decision, members of the Associated Students Legislative Council at the University of California, Santa Barbara (the school’s official student government), voted on Wednesday to create a Student DOE Laboratory Oversight Committee.

The text of the bill establishing the Committee explains that its purpose is, “to educate students and the community about UC’s nuclear weapons labs, US nuclear weapons programs, and international law, (2) to provide accountability and oversight of UC’s nuclear weapons labs by the UCSB and UC student bodies, and (3) to lobby and advise policymakers, the Regents and US Congress on issues related to nuclear weapons and non-proliferation.”

The bill’s preamble clearly spells out the disarmament mission of the committee: “The United States is a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and therefore required, ‘to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The Committee’s mission will be to provide student oversight of UC’s nuclear warhead research, design and production labs in order to ensure that the United States (and its nuclear weapons contractors, particularly UC) obey treaty obligations to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Ellen McClure, a 2nd year UCSB student and founding member of the Committee explains that, “as UC students we feel that it’s imperative for us to get involved right now.” According to McClure, “this is a crucial time for action. The design of new nuclear weapons at Livermore, and efforts to begin building components for the new nuclear weapons arsenal at Los Alamos are not only wasteful but will make the world a vastly more dangerous place. We intend to stop this.”

Darwin BondGraham, a graduate student and member of the committee stated that their work will focus in on several controversial developments at the UC operated labs including the Reliable Replacement Warhead program (RRW), pit production, waste disposal, and possible conflicts of interest amongst UC administrators. “Programs like RRW, and the push toward plutonium pit manufacturing are extremely disconcerting developments. This committee intends to learn as much as it can about this. We are, I must say, upset, as are most UC students, by the actions of the federal government and our university’s administration. Why does our nation need entirely new nuclear weapons? What is this supposed need to manufacture plutonium bomb pits? What impacts is this going to have on the environment and global security? Why is our university involved in these activities when there are so many more pressing issues facing us?”

Fourth Year Spanish Language Major Cricket Clarke expressed that, "The university is set up to teach our minds and not our hearts. This is how they can get away with operations such as designing and creating more nuclear weapons while breaking international law and federal environmental law, not to mention laws of humanity that supersede any signed document. The establishment of this committee shows that the hearts of the students are speaking loudly.” Clarke Continued that, “Working with faculty, staff, students and with community members around the weapons labs, all of who have immense knowledge about past attempts to make the UC nuke labs accountable for their actions will be key in guiding the new student oversight committee. We’re going to approach the problem from new and creative angles.”

The Committee plans to convene its first meeting early next week. Up for discussion will be the appointment of advisors and possible subjects of investigation. According to the body’s founding members, pit production in Los Alamos and the RRW program are at the top of this list.

“If there’s a message or meaning to the establishment of this Committee,” added BondGraham, “it’s that the core mission of these labs and the direction of this university are far out of line with the real needs facing our society. We’re going to help change this.”


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