Kamis, Maret 04, 2010

U.S. Navy Conceals Nuclear Weapons Production in California

A U.S. nuclear weapons assembly plant in California is off limits to any kind of photography, information gathering, or reporting. Local residents are unaware of the plant's existence and its potential radiological hazards. (Repost from Indymedia NL)

The United States Navy and Lockheed Martin have been concealing the assembly and movement of nuclear warheads in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area for decades. The nuclear weapons facility is so secret that not only is photography strictly prohibited, but even making drawings or taking notes about the buildings from a public street is considered illegal. It is internally identified as a Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP), one of several across the country.

Inside a single sprawling industrial building of approximately 100,000 square feet at the corner of 5th Avenue and Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale, California individual W88 nuclear warheads are assembled for the Trident II (D5) submarine-launched missile. Labeled externally by Lockheed Martin's designation simply as Building 181, the facility contains loading docks shielded from view from streets for trucks to load and unload their sensitive cargoes away from the eyes of the public or even from aircraft and reconnaissance satellites.

Once loaded onto unmarked trucks, often under cover of darkness, the warheads may be moved to or from any of a number of nuclear weapons laboratories around the country or to the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Support Base in Georgia, just north of Jacksonville, Florida. That is where they are loaded onto Trident II missiles at the submarines' home base.

The W88 nuclear warhead was designed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where supercomputer simulations were used to optimize the yield of the warhead through a critical combination of a plutonium 239 primary explosive boosted by a tritium-deuterium fusion reaction. That, in turn, detonates a uranium 235 secondary, enhanced by a lithium 6 deuteride fusion reaction. This complex combination gives the W88 an incredible explosive yield of 470 kilotons of TNT equivalent in a remarkably compact warhead. This is equivalent to approximately 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

Each Trident II missile payload is a multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) containing eight W88 nuclear warheads, which gives a single missile the power to obliterate every major metropolis in countries like Japan, Iran, or Pakistan. One Trident nuclear submarine carries 24 Trident II ballistic missiles, giving it a combined weapons payload equivalent to 90 million tons of TNT, enough to flatten infrastructure and wipe out most of the populations of China, India, Russia, or Brazil several times over. The only other country believed to possess such advanced warheads is Israel, some of whose dual-nationality nuclear scientists were among the few to have been given security clearance to work on advanced numerical simulations of nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Aerial photographs reveal the below-ground ramps along the western wall and near the south eastern corner of Building 181. From ground level, the declining ramps are concealed by privacy slats in the chain link security fence. Nowhere else does the chain link perimeter fence contain privacy slats, indicating that there was a deliberate decision to specifically conceal the below-ground ramps and the loading docks that they lead to.
Meanwhile, numerous high-resolution video cameras track anyone who attempts to look too closely at Building 181, at any activity inside the perimeter fence, or even anyone approaching the perimeter fence from the public streets.

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, which has operated the property continuously since acquiring it, apparently sold the property to the U.S. Navy at the latter's request on December 27, 1957. With the intent to use the building for the engineering and assembly of advanced nuclear warheads, the Navy deemed it necessary to buy the property in order to enforce provisions of U.S. Code Title 18 applicable only to U.S. government property to prevent photography and data collection about the facility. Confounding measures were also taken, such as deliberately mislabeling the street address as "1233 North Mathilda" when the actual recorded street address is 1235 North Mathilda Avenue. Nevertheless, the change in ownership did not alter Lockheed Martin's exclusive custody of the property and use of its facilities.

While the U.S. government hammers relentlessly at Iran for allegedly failing divulge the full details about its uranium enrichment efforts and its nuclear program, the Pentagon is not only actively concealing nuclear warhead production from the American public and the IAEA (UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna), but concealing the movement of dangerous fissile materials through densely-populated urban areas like Sunnyvale and Mountain View.

It is time for the United Nations and the American people to demand full disclosure of the Pentagon's intentions for further development of nuclear weapons. With the United States and Israel being the only countries in the world to openly declare the option of using nuclear weapons in a first strike, these are the most dangerous sources of pre-emptive nuclear war. Iran, by contrast, has not launched any sort of pre-emptive attack on another country in more than a century, let alone an attack with any type of weapon of mass destruction.

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