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Weapons Inspectors Denied Access Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

by Tara Dorabji (taradorabji [at]
On Veteran's Day over 200 people rallied at Lawrence Livermore National Lab delivering a letter of notice and intent to inspect for weapons of mass destruction. Disarmament experts delivered the letter just days after the UN security counsel passed a resolution authorizing the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq.
Who Will Disarm America?

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2002, over two hundred people formed citizen weapons inspection teams including representatives from community, veterans and student groups. The diverse crowd delivered a notice of intent to inspect Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a facility involved in the design, development and testing of nuclear weapons.

The six-page letter of intent to inspect quotes directly from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 on Iraq, adopted November 8, 2002, demanding, “immediate, unimpeded unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport,” at Livermore nuclear weapons Lab. A partial list of facilities the Citizen Inspection Team requests access to include: The Plutonium Facility, The Tritium Facility and the National Ignition Facility.

Representatives from California Peace Action, Tri-Valley CAREs, Western States Legal Foundation and Veterans for Peace displayed evidence of the Lab’s involvement in clandestine activities related to the research and development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and biological weapons.

“We are here demanding an end to all weapons of mass destruction, whether developed in the suburbs by University of California scientists, or in Iraq,” stated Tara Dorabji, Outreach Coordinator for Tri-Valley CAREs.

“In light of the Security Council’s vote in favor of sending weapons inspectors back to Iraq, we seek to hold our country to the same standard,” declared Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation.

Students from four different University of California campuses demanded that the University of California Regents, who manage the nation’s two primary nuclear weapons labs, support ongoing inspections of Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories. In order to verify the status and cessation of research and development activities involving nuclear and biological weapons at these labs, ongoing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, other international agencies and Citizen Weapons Inspection Teams will be needed.

“The Regents have a responsibility to the student community to admit weapons inspectors and adhere to international laws, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” stated Valerie Kao student at UC Berkeley. “However, it will take a strong student movement to get the Regents to comply with international law and pursue disarmament in the United States,” Kao addressed the UC Regents and delivered the letter of intent to inspect at a Regents’ meeting on November 13, in San Francisco.

The letter of intent to inspect, addressed to Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio, was signed by over 100 people. David Schwoegler, spokesperson for the Lab, ensured the letter would be delivered to Anastasio. He did not respond to the group’s request for inspection, but told the Tri-Valley Times, “We just don’t let people into special areas with nuclear materials.”

“After reviewing multiple public Department of Energy documents, it is clear that Livermore Lab is developing new nuclear weapons that will be more useable in conventional warfare,” explained Erek Dyskant, science intern at Tri-Valley CAREs.

The continued development of nuclear weapons at Livermore Lab puts the U.S. in material breech of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which became Law in 1970. Under, Article VI, the US is obliged to pursue genuine disarmament.

A line of armed security met the inspection team. After delivering the letter, the crowd singing “We shall overcome”, pledged to continue returning to Lawrence Livermore National Lab, until teams of international and civilian weapons inspectors are admitted.

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