WRL organizers have just returned home from New Mexico after spending time at the Disarmament Summer encampment in Chimayo, New Mexico, organized by the youth-led anti-nuclear network Think Outside the Bomb, along with TEWA Women United, the Indigenous Uranium Forum, and the Multicultural Alliance for Safe Environments. Eight activists were arrested during a sit-in in front of the doors to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building, the home of nuclear weapons planning.
At the action at the Los Alamos lab, activists together carried a bright blue cloth deemed “the living river” as we entered the ground of the lab, symbolizing the power of water as a life-giving force and the destruction of the nuclear fuel cycle of many of our waters. For the group of us who agreed before the march to do a direct action on the grounds of the lab, we were inspired to see 120 people behind us in our symbolic march on paved-over Native land towards the CMR building.
For people who don’t know much about the current status of the global nuclear arms race and have only heard tales of the Obama administration focusing on disarmament, particularly as it pertains to those “dangerous” countries of Central and South Asia, know this: the Obama administration’s talk about disarmament is a sham. Activists on the ground have been calling the U.S. government’s strategic shifts towards more “advanced” nuclear weapons capabilities and increased federal investment in nuclear power contracts a “nuclear renaissance,” as bomb-making remains front-and-center of our strategy for national defense and global domination.
The U.S. government has proposed the largest nuclear weapons budget ever for fiscal year 2011, which includes plans for the creation of “Prompt Global Strike” a conventional weapon system that, like nuclear weapons, could strike anywhere in the world within a hour through the use of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In addition, the federal government has pledged $54 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear power facilities, which has direct affects on communities that are targeted for their construction. The nuclear fuel cycle results in some of the most serious health and environmental impacts the world has known. People living in Albuquerque drink purified and bottled water because what comes out of the tap is laced with plutonium. Communities near the test sites, processing plants, and uranium mines are living with the long-term effects of exposure to uranium and plutonium, which includes cancer, birth defects, and many chronic health problems.
After a 30 year hiatus, the uranium industry has now applied to open or re-open 22 New Mexican mines on Native land, many on sacred sites, in direct opposition to a Navajo ban on mining operations. There are still hundreds of abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, largely located on Navajo and Pueblo lands, and state and federal agencies are only now beginning to inventory those mines and begin the cleanup process. We must stop the cycle of destruction of uranium mining now before contracts are given to new companies and end the disastrous effects of the nuclear fuel cycle as the Obama administration moves forward with its “nuclear renaissance.”