Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Karen Horst Cobb, "It’s the Pits: Going up the Nuclear Mountain,", September 3, 2006.

Plutonium pit production ceased when the facility at Rocky Flats, CO closed in 1989. Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), operated by the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, The Washington Group International, and the Federal government wants to change that. On April 22, 2003 LANL announced it’s interest in the pit production program and recently is actively seeking to commence. Plutonium “pits” are essentially the plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads. Currently, the stated goal (according to reference documents available though Nuclear watch New Mexico ) is to increase the number of new pits by 80 each year. At the same time, the pit production program will be extended for an additional 25 years.

This will dramatically increase the amount of nuclear waste to be transported on our highways and stored on site as well as in nuclear waste facilities around the country. The citizens of New Mexico are speaking out against the plan in hearings as they try to influence the vote in the New Mexico House and Senate. Like many other issues which greatly impact our lives this story is not being reported on the nightly news. Perhaps if it were many would still not speak out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I sought to understand the motivations behind this plan and find a way to explain how good citizens (many of them professed followers of Jesus) are ambivalent on the topic of nuclear weapons. How can citizens remain silent while nuclear weapons are developed with our tax dollars? These weapons indiscriminately destroy children and the aged and contaminate the environment for generations. On a quest for the answer to this question I traveled up the nuclear mountain, known as Los Alamos, to see what I could see.

The expansive late summer sky seemed to swallow me up the steep ascent. My destination was not far from the summit and promised illumination and insight. The entrance to the sanctuary was quiet this Thursday afternoon. I timidly pulled open the massive doors and stepped inside. Quiet reverence, dim lighting and the soft gentle voice of a women welcomed me. Is this your first visit?” I admitted, “it is.”

Old men stood close together and spoke in low reverent tones as they remembered sacred moments and young students stood in wonderment. Others were reading text with thoughtful expressions and now and then I saw an eye glisten with a held back tear.

This was my first visit to the Bradbury Science Museum of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a dark shiny edifice honoring the ultimate god of America; the Atomic Bomb. I saw “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” the first nuclear bombs. Signs flashed above theater doors with a “countdown” until the next praise and worship to the powers of destruction “The Lab Today”. The “Stockpile Stewardship Program“ presentation demonstrates how our nation’s physicist/priests care for our nuclear weapons. A well modulated voice explains each weapon in clinical detail.

The shiny capsule which holds the plutonium core is given a special place of honor; an ark of a dark covenant of destruction. These weapons have killed children, mothers, fathers and grandparents. I felt I was in the presence of worshipers of fear, death and destruction.

I asked the greeter where the Nuclear Disarmament Museum is located. She didn’t know. I stood stunned next to a shiny bomb mounted in a large Lucite box. She came to me suggesting that the “Public Forum” in the back might have “something on my topic“. (Perhaps the word “disarmament” is forbidden.) A tiny dark cubical and some photos of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pasted together by members of the public who demanded a voice. One was of a mass grave with a sea of skulls (too many to count). It was far beyond any found in Iraq. The text explained that the war was essentially over before the US dropped the bomb. It was immoral and unnecessary! I saw the suffering, the wounded, the orphaned, the homeless, the traumatized. A nursing mother with radiation sores seared into her breasts. Her eyes pleaded for her baby’s future. I read again on the pamphlet given to me that the goal of LANL is to “reduce the global threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.” What irony!

Two veterans of WWII lingered along the wall chronicling the history of the Manhattan project. They seemed to stand a little taller, their voices a little stronger, as they remembered Groves and Oppenheimer and the others. It was a great war to remember, a war which continues to give meaning to some people’s lives.

I’ve heard of people who practice demonic crafts in secret and worship death, destruction and suffering. But, I came face to face with the enemy of compassion and understanding who openly honors destruction. The atomic city set on a hill continues to strive for equality with God. Bombs of every size and shape have been designed and “improved” here, even the thousands of unexploded bomblets which are littering Lebanon an Iraq. There is no pornography greater than the image of the little Lebanese boy who reports in agony that his “insides fell out” so he “held them and started screaming.” Let this be the Satanic power and pornography we stand against. Perhaps this is “why they hate us.”

The descent from the mountain was slow. There was thunder and lightening . The Father Son and Holy Ghost was not the power at the Trinity test site. Like many cars in New Mexico the message on the bumper of the car in front of me “It Started Here-Let’s End it Here”.

According to information provided by the Los Alamos Peace Project , the US currently has 23,000 nuclear pits which have been proven to be reliable for the next 20 years. Scientists suspect expanded viability for 90 years or more (the upward limits are unknown.) The Nuclear nonproliferation treaty ratified by the US in 1970 mandates that all the nuclear arsenals begin to be dismantled. This current production plan violates the intent of the treaty. It is unclear what the environmental impact will be to the citizens of New Mexico and the rest of the nation.

The US is seeking to go to war against a country which weapon’s experts conservatively estimate is 10 years away from even having one nuclear weapon. The hypocrisy of the US increasing an already overflowing stockpile of nuclear weapons will only substantiate the fears of other nations and increase their desire to follow our example on the nuclear path to national offense and defense.

A total of $6.6 billion (tax payers dollars) is allocated for continued nuclear weapons development in 2006. This would go along way toward a Manhattan style project for renewable and sustainable technologies as many have suggested. We still have a representative government. Make your voice heard before it is too late to stop the increased plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratories. It started here let’s end it here.


Karen Horst Cobb lives in rural New Mexico and is a regular contributor to Her article No Longer a Christian Oct. 24, 2004 is still circulating with over 10,000 reader responses to date. Her articles remind the world of the ethics and values of the Sermon on The Mount and proclaim that there is no GI-Joe Jesus. She also writes a weekly column for Every Church a Peach Church Contact Karen at and find her other articles and speeches and lectures at
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