UC and the Nuclear Weapons Business
We’ve all heard about the inspections that took place in Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction and programs to make them. As we know, none were found in Iraq. That wouldn’t be the case if the inspectors were to come to the University of California.
They would find that programs to research, design, develop, improve, test and maintain nuclear weapons have been going on under the auspices of this university for more than 60 years and that they are going on today. They would find that the UC provides management and oversight to the nation’s two principal nuclear weapons laboratories: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. They would find that today these weapons laboratories are engaged in attempting to make new and more usable nuclear weapons: ‘bunker-busters’ and mini-nukes.
For a fee, UC has provided a fig leaf of respectability to the research and development of the most horrendous weapons known to humankind. It is ironic that our government cannot tolerate the possibility of Iraqi scientists creating such weapons, but here at the UC, such a horrid use of science is called ‘a service to the nation.’
Two of the weapons developed at the Los Alamos Laboratory were used on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These were relatively small weapons, and they caused the deaths of over 200,000 persons, mostly innocent civilians, by incineration, burning, blast and radiation poisoning. There are no guarantees that the nuclear weapons being developed today under UC auspices will not be used again. In fact, the odds are that if we continue as we are, they will be used again, by accident or design.
There are three important reasons the UC should get out of the nuclear weapons business.
First, the UC is a great university, and no great university should lend its talents to making weapons capable of destroying cities, civilizations and most life on Earth. The function of a university is to examine the amazing wonders of our world, to collect and categorize knowledge, to expand the knowledge base and to pass important knowledge from the past on to new generations. How can a great university allow itself to be co-opted into becoming complicit in creating weapons of mass destruction? How can the UC Board of Regents justify this as ‘a service to the nation’?
Second, there is no moral ground on which nuclear weapons can rest. These are weapons of mass murder. They cannot discriminate between combatants and civilians. They kill indiscriminately