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New Plan Favors Nuke Testing in Nevada

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 By Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Contact
March 10, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – "Plan A" was production of new nuclear weapons in Nevada. Now, however, a federal agency has shifted gears, deciding the best use of the Nevada Test Site would be so-called "High Hazard" weapons testing, which includes nuclear weapons. The site is located just 65 miles from Las Vegas, and Launce Rake of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) says that's a little too close for comfort.

"It's simply not a very prudent thing to do when you've got a population of two million here in Las Vegas. Not only do we not need these weapons, but it will be unsafe and dirty for the urban area."

The National Nuclear Safety Administration says moving nuclear testing to smaller sites such as Nevada's will be safer, more secure and less expensive. Rake argues the nation already has a nuclear arsenal sufficient to blow up the world several times over; he suggests it looks more like a 'sweetheart deal' for government contractors.

The Nevada Test site also sits on ground sacred to Native Americans. Julie Ann Fishel with the Western Shoshone Defense Fund says it appeared the feds were going to throw in the towel on the idea of using the old test site, but the project somehow keeps coming back to life -- with little input from Native Americans.

"I think this is just further evidence of the U.S.'s ongoing violations against, not only Western Shoshone people, but the general public as well. The ongoing environmental contamination and threats to people's physical and environmental health and safety should be of extreme concern to people."

In the Bush Administration's view, the plan will cut the size and cost of the nation's nuclear weapons stock, but some scientists oppose the idea because it effectively revives U.S. production of nuclear weapons. Fishel says members of her Defense Project just testified about U.S. treaty violations at a hearing in Switzerland. Had they known about this latest proposal, she says, they would have lodged a complaint.

More information is available online at www.nnsa.doe.gov/complextransformation.htm.

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