Letter From Northern New Mexico: Birthplace of the Atomic Bomb

By Suzanne Schwartz, Norteños for Peaceful and Livable Futures, El Prado, NM

Dear Editor:

As we celebrated Entry into Force Day of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and honored the legacy and courageousness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to speaking truth to power, I urge us all to take a closer look at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), right here in our backyard and its planned mission of industrial-scale plutonium pit production.

The new Cold War commenced during the Obama administration when it committed nearly a trillion taxpayer dollars to the so called “modernization” of the entire United States nuclear weapons arsenal, including 80 new pits per year by 2030. Plutonium pits are a key component in triggering the nuclear explosion of thermonuclear weapons. A “pit” is required for each nuclear warhead to detonate its payload “effectively.”

Research shows that plutonium pits have reliable lifetimes of at least 80 years, maybe more. The oldest pit in the arsenal is forty-three years old. The US has tens of thousands of usable pits in storage at the Pantex Plant in Texas and thousands of usable warheads, enough to destroy all life on earth hundreds of times over.

Why on earth is our government trying to make thousands of unnecessary new plutonium pits, while spending billions upon billions of US taxpayer dollars for its US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine and beating the drums of war by using provocative statements about its goal to “weaken Russia” and cause regime change there, all while ramping up militaristic rhetoric portraying China’s economic rise as an existential threat to the United States? I think this behavior is insane.

Our New Mexico Senators and Representatives in DC like to cite that LANL has a multi-billion dollar economic impact on New Mexico. But if this is so, why does New Mexico remain one of the most impoverished states in the country, while Los Alamos County is among the four wealthiest counties in the entire nation?

While New Mexico’s government and many non-governmental organizations are working on mitigating the climate crisis, they appear to ignore the undeniable fact of LANL’s enormous carbon footprint and the massive quantities of our precious and finite water resource it needs to pursue its plutonium pit production goals. In fact, the growing climate movement will fail utterly in its efforts to secure a livable future unless it recognizes that the gigantic United States war economy negates all climate action.

What could bring real hope is for the climate movement to join the tiny, marginalized peace movement, which at one time was large enough, informed enough, and powerful enough to help end the Vietnam War and obstruct nuclear weapons proliferation and US wars of aggression worldwide. We could use its strength and its voice to grow and become the new resistance that ends the United States government’s wars of aggression and subvert its drive to maintain global hegemony. They call this domination the “Rules Based World Order,” meaning the US makes up the rules and enforces them through violence.

This is only possible, of course, if we can avoid the immediate existential threat of thermonuclear war, in which case there will be no winners and no one left to judge.

If we agree with Pope Francis and Archbishop Wester that nuclear weapons are immoral, do we in Northern New Mexico have an obligation to acknowledge and speak out against the uncomfortable truth of the nuclear weapons enterprise’s primary mission at LANL, which it justifies under the false names of “national security” and “keeping us safe?” I say, “Not in my name!”  

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: “My own Government, I can not be Silent.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And then they killed him.

Let us speak out!




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