Friday, May 4, 2007

UC Student Hunger Strike: No More Nuclear Bombs In Our Name!

May 9th will see the beginning of a hunger strike to demand that the University of California stop engineering, testing and manufacturing nuclear bombs. This bold act of civil resistance is being coordinated by students and community members across multiple UC campuses. Some of us have pledged to go without solid food - permanently, if necessary - unless our demand is met!

The hunger strikers' basic position is this: At this critical time in our world, with the survival of our planetary ecosystem hanging in the balance, it is imperative for the UC Regents to stop providing a fig leaf of academic respectability to the creation of the world's most toxic and deadly weapons, and instead use their position of political leverage to spur the US toward genuine nuclear disarmament, democratization, and demilitarization.

What Political Leverage? The UC has been the primary nuclear weapons lab research contractor in the United States for over six decades. It has managed the Los Alamos (NM) and Lawrence Livermore (CA) nuclear weapons compounds since their inceptions in 1943 and 1952, respectively. Hence, every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal was researched and designed by a UC employee.

Why Now? In March, the US Nuclear Weapons Council, an interagency committee of executives from the Departments of Defense and Energy, announced that the UC's Livermore facility would develop a new hydrogen bomb. Officially, this is to be the first new US nuclear weapon since the end of the Cold War. Los Alamos is slated to manufacture the plutonium bomb cores, or "pits," for these weapons. Owing in part to its technical complexity and political baggage, pit manufacturing is the pivotal step in creating modern nuclear warheads. It is also perhaps the most polluting stage in the nuclear weapons production process.

These developments are part and parcel of a US government plan to revitalize the entire nuclear weapons complex, so as to begin producing dozens of new nukes every year. Other nations rightfully view such plans as a bellwether of US imperial ambitions and are responding in kind. The danger of a nuclear exchange has rarely been greater.

Why Else? As you read this, US nuclear attack submarines roam beneath the waters of the Straight of Hormuz, outside of Iran, ready to launch "small yield" nuclear weapons at "hardened underground targets" on virtually a moment's notice. An assault of this type would kill tens of thousands of innocent people, irradiate Iran's natural environment for generations to come, and almost certainly escalate tensions among many of the world's nations of the world so as to lead to even more catastrophic future wars and bombings of this type.

The type of nuclear weapon in question, the B61-11, was created by UC employees at the Los Alamos laboratory in the mid-'90s. UC administrators, faculty members, staff, and students will be directly complicit in this massacre, should it occur.

Political Leverage, Revisited: If The Regents decline to support the labs' hydrogen bomb initiative, due to critical grassroots pressure applied by UC students and their supporters, the political consequences will be vast. The labs' new weapons program will very likely die. The US nuclear enterprise will have been dealt a major setback, from which it is unlikely to fully recover.

The US is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a United Nations pact mandating the nuclear powers to work in good faith toward the cessation of the arms race and toward nuclear disarmament. Since ratification of the treaty in 1970, US intransigence has been the primary barrier to its full realization. If the US is brought into compliance with its international law obligations, global nuclear
disarmament will instantly transform into a genuine possibility.

How, Exactly, Will The Hunger Strike Make An Impact? For several years, the multi-campus UC Demilitarization Coalition has worked on several fronts to sever the UC's nuclear ties. We have written letters, generated petitions, spoken politely during Regents meeting public comment periods. We have spoken angrily during public comment periods. We have held rallies. We have held press conferences. We have protested. We have dumped paper cranes on the Regents' meeting room floor. More recently, we have physically disrupted Regents meetings. Clearly, most "legitimate" channels for trying to change UC policy are closed to us. A more drastic action is needed. The UC demilitarization campaign has progressed to a point where such an action is possible and can be successful, particularly in light of the recent creation of a Student Nuclear Weapons Labs Oversight Committee by the UCSB student
government. The time is now.

The UC Regents' next public meeting is May 16-17 at UC San Francisco. The hunger strike will apply critical public pressure to force the Regents to consider a resolution to sever ties with the weapons labs. Any such resolution must stipulate that the Regents withdraw support from the labs based only on principled opposition to current US nuclear weapons programs.

The Regents have rarely been more politically vulnerable with regard to their role as nukes lab managers. The labs' new hydrogen bomb program has no technical justification and is clearly contrary to international law. It is deeply unpopular even among many long-time nuclear weapons supporters.

Hunger strikes have a long history of success at UC campuses. There is historical momentum on our side.

What Are The Health Consequences of Hunger Striking? By making a few basic physical and mental preparations, participating in the hunger strike is unlikely to have any long-term health consequences for anyone without major existing health deficiencies. If you would like to consult with seasoned experts regarding various potential health implications of your participation, e-mail or call (805) 965-3443.

Each participant is free to decide the duration and variety of their fast on an individual basis, or in consultation with other hunger strikers. Some participants will fast for a few days; others are fasting for an open-ended time span.

How Can I Join The Hunger Strike? To participate, please contact, call (805) 965-3443, or visit If you don't want to hunger strike but would still like to support this critical and timely initiative in any way, please contact us.


Patrick said...

Good luck!! I may be all the way on the east coast, but I'm right there with you in heart and spirit. I've posted about this hunger strike on

- Patrick

Anonymous said...

Where is the author of this post getting their facts? While I agree with nuclear nonproliferation (the world should aim for a nuke count of zero as soon as feasible), I can't stand watching people who speak in favor of that goal speak in an ill-informed, single-sided manner. Mixing the RRW with hypothesized (and, probably incorrectly guessed) deployment of existing systems weakens the argument for both. They are loosely related at best. One is in reference to nuclear proliferation, the other is in reference to US policy on the use of weapons.

Furthermore, I would suggest that the students protest the more obvious and deadly military development of the US -- conventional weapons. The sheer number of conventional explosives is staggering, and the number of deaths that have resulted from them vastly outnumber those of nuclear weapons. Even when nukes were used in WWII, more people had died in the conventional bombings of Tokyo than the nuclear attacks that followed. The only difference was sustained days of slow death by bombing versus an instant in the morning. There is no difference in the end - they both kill, yet only one is used in practice (and the students here appear to have no problem with the option that actually gets used...) If the end goal is to eliminate senseless deaths and the promotion of political agendas by violent force, focus on the real problem - conventional weapons. Nuclear weapons are nasty, but they don't have a history and continuing pattern of causing massive, massive numbers of deaths. We should not support the development of conventional missiles and bombs that actually get used.

-A national lab scientist

Anonymous said...

I doubt that students who are willing to risk their own lives to protest nuclear weapons are in favor of conventional weaponry. The students have chosen their battle wisely, nuclear weapons apply to the students at the UC because they are members of the institution that is designing and manufacturing these weapons. In this case, the university should be responsive to its student population. The students interests should come before the Department of Energy labs because the UC is set up for the students. If the University of California were manufacturing bunker busters or biological weapons the students would have a similar responsibility to protest. But the UC is not. It's making nuclear weapons and whether or not they have caused the most deaths doesn't matter because the students at the UC's are in a position to stop their institution from making these weapons.

The labs are in the process of making new nuclear weapons. The RRW program cannot be separated from 'US policy on the use of weapons' because the manufacture of new weapons and the expanding of capabilities for future production runs counter to the supposed goals of disarmament enshrined in the US ratified Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While making new weapons and using the old ones are not the same issue, they send a similar message to other nations: We don't respect international law. We don't trust you. You shouldn't trust us.

-Eliot Aleksandr

Anonymous said...

Good luck in the hunger strike. I am eating my beef tri-tip sandwich and loving it.

Anonymous said...

Do these students really think that starving themselves is going to make the regents or anyone else change their position on anything whatsoever? You must think you are pretty special to even believe that. Not a single regent or anybody else is going to care or stop what they are doing just because you chose to stop eating.

The conversation between these "protesters" probably went something like this:

"Hey dude, it's like the end of the semester and I'm out of cash."

"Yea, me too man."

"I'm hungry."

"Yea, me too man."

"I have an idea dude. Let's start a hunger strike against nuclear weapons and the UC's involvement dude."

"Yea, count me in man. I'm hungry too."

Then they started this hunger strike.

Anonymous said...

TO: beef tri-tip sandwich anonymous

Watch out for those soft, spongiform CJD bits, dude!