07 January, 2007

Divine Strake - "where is our democracy?"

The Pentagon is still determined to carry out the testing, known as Divine Strake, that it wants to conduct in order to unilaterally upgrade its nuclear weapons stockpiles. Although public pressure stopped the testing last summer, it was merely postponed, not cancelled. The Feds are now holding a new sort of public hearing; they talk, the public listens. The next one will be held this Wednesday in Utah.

Public Hearing is a dog-and-pony show

HEAL Utah and downwinders are outraged that the scheduled public hearings for the Divine Strake blast will not seek public input on the test. HEAL Utah and downwinders are calling upon Utah’s Congressional Delegation to demand real hearings that allow citizens to voice their concerns about the simulated nuclear detonation.

The federal government has promised public hearings on Divine Strake in Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Instead, poster sessions been scheduled only in Las Vegas, St. George and Salt Lake City.

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration states that next Wednesday’s hearings in St. George and Salt Lake will be an open house format where people can look at informational posters and ask technical questions about the environmental assessment conducted for the test. The public will not, however, be able to voice concerns or offer comments about the decision to conduct the test itself.

A hearing implies that public input will be solicited, but this event is nothing more than a public relations ploy allowing the Pentagon and Department of Energy to shower the public with propaganda. “The public has never had a voice in Divine Strake,” says Salt Lake City downwinder Mary Dickson. “Just like during the 1950s, our government is clearly not listening to the public. Where is our democracy?”

According to Defense Department budget documents, the Divine Strake test is designed to identify the smallest proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground targets. Though the Defense Department now claims that there are no nuclear applications for the test, critics maintain tat information from the blast will aid in the design of new nuclear weapons.

The blast, which is predicted to create a 10,000 foot mushroom cloud, could disperse long-lived radionuclides at the Nevada Test Site, putting Utahns and other civilian populations down-wind once again. We fear the test will lead to the development of new nuclear weapons and resumed nuclear testing at the test site.

The blast from this detonation will be 50 times larger than the largest conventional weapon in the U.S. arsenal, and will have a yield of .6 kilotons – corresponding to the lowest yield of the B61 nuclear bomb.

"No more mushroom clouds, nuclear or not,” says Dickson. “We must not allow Divine Strake.

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