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Action Alert - Protest Nuclear Weapons Test 18 September

Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

Issued 18 March 1998

The date of the second US sub-critical nuclear weapons test 'Holog' has now been confirmed as 18 September. The test will involve two simultaneous explosions of plutonium (77g and 50g) and high explosive (50g and 50g), and will be detonated at the Nevada test site; they are called sub-critical tests as they are not supposed to be a self sustaining (critical) nuclear reaction.

How you can protest :

a) Contact the US ambassador - Josiah Beeman, US Embassy, 29 Fitzherbert Tce, Thorndon, Wellington; tel (04) 472 2068; fax (04) 471 2380.

b) Contact Jim Bolger and Don McKinnon and ask them to protest to the US ambassador - Prime Minister's office tel (04) 471 9998; fax (04) 473 7045; Don McKinnon's office tel 471 9999; fax 471 1444 or write to them at Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp needed).

c) Contact your local MP and ask them to contact Jim Bolger, Don McKinnon and the US ambassador !

d) Contact President Clinton, The White House, Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC; fax + 1 202 456 2461 or email <>

There was huge international protest over 'Rebound' (the last sub-critical test on 2 July), so please help to make this one the same. If you can't think of what to say, there are any number of issues raised by the US sub-critical nuclear weapons tests some of which are summarised below - if you require more information, please contact PMA.


The Nevada Test site is Western Shoshone land, it is subject to the Treaty of Ruby Valley (1863) which the US government refuses to honour. There have been 106 atmospheric nuclear tests and over 750 underground tests (both US and British) at the site. The area has been devastated and is extensively polluted with a range of radioactive contaminants - rather than adding even more plutonium to this, the US government should immediately stop all nuclear weapons tests and divert their nuclear weapons scientists' energies towards decontaminating and restoring the site. A task that should fully occupy their minds and keep them usefully employed for decades if not centuries.

And as if the use of their land for nuclear weapons testing isn't bad enough, the Western Shoshone are currently opposing more plans for nuclear waste storage in the area - more details of this in the next PMA newsletter.


The official line is they are testing to maintain the 'safety and reliability' of existing nuclear weapons - seems to us the one way to ensure this would be to dismantle them ! However, Department of Energy (who are in charge of US nuclear testing) documents indicate that information gained from the current series will be used in new nuclear weapons design, 'Holog' is designed to increase understanding of a weapon's performance as it will provide information on the way shards of molten plutonium are ejected from a blast. There are currently four new nuclear warheads under design by the three major US nuclear weapons labs Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia.

In addition, the information collected from this test series will go towards 'virtual reality' nuclear testing, a ten year $US 250 million contract for this is currently being considered by the California Institute of Technology. It is quite clear that the 'virtual testing' programme is a response to the high level of protest over all nuclear weapons tests, and will enable the atomic scientists to carry on with their fiendish new weapons development in total secrecy.


Basically, these tests do not indicate any willingness by the US government to end its nuclear arms race as they have agreed to do at least since 1968 (Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ..."undertakes 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" ...). Furthermore, the new Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is breached at least in spirit by this test series (and some argue it is breached in fact); continuing with these tests may stop the CTBT entering into force as non-nuclear weapons and threshold nuclear weapons states perceive them to be an indication of the US government's lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament; and it may encourage other nuclear weapons states to begin their own sub-critical nuclear weapons tests (see below).

Ironically, US ratification of the CTBT was raised in the US Senate just last week.


There have been rumours circulating for the past month that Russia is about to begin a sub-critical nuclear weapons test programme too - an unexplained 'seismic event' near the Novaya Zemlya test site at the end of August prompted speculation that the series may already have begun. We still have no confirmed information on this, but perhaps when you've finished writing / phoning / faxing the US ambassador you could contact the Russian ambassador enquiring as to their nuclear plans ! Sergei Belyev, Embassy of the Russian Federation, 57 Messines Road, Kelburn, Wellington; tel (04) 476 6113; fax (04) 476 3843.

5) FINALLY ! If you receive written or faxed replies to any protest, it would be great if you could send us a copy, knowing what has been said in a reply helps us to counteract the arguments in the next round.


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