The Los Alamos community is cordially invited to a discussion about nuclear weapons policy, past and present, featuring Hiroshima survivor Ms. Shigeko Sasamori. This free event will be hosted by the Los Alamos Study Group on Sunday, September 23, at 1:00 PM. Please come to the Holiday Inn Express at 2455 Trinity Drive for this rare opportunity to meet Ms. Sasamori.
Virtually all discussion of nuclear policy in the U.S. is based on a perspective from above the mushroom cloud. Ms. Sasamori’s experience “beneath the cloud” offers a perspective with which most of us are unfamiliar. We who deal with nuclear weapons professionally cannot fully understand what nuclear weapons are all about until we can see them through eyes that have seen them more intimately than anyone ever should.
Hugh Gusterson wrote, in a review of “White Light, Black Rain” for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists web edition:
Until we can look at the schoolgirl's charred lunch box, until we can take in the suffering of the survivors, our defense of Hiroshima – if we still want to make one – will be dishonest. And until we look at what these weapons do as unflinchingly as Okazaki's survivors look into his camera, they will not be able to die in peace, knowing that their message was heard.I will follow Ms. Sasamori's talk and discussion with an update on current nuclear weapons budget decisions in Congress and what they may mean for Los Alamos.
I am not sure many folks in Los Alamos understand that more than half of the cuts to LANL’s budget proposed by the House of Representatives are cuts to LANL’s proposed new pit production mission and related capital projects. Basically the House, among other aims, is trying to keep LANL from becoming the new Rocky Flats plant. The local press, following the pained cries of our lackluster congressional delegation, has so far mostly missed this point. Congress is deciding right now whether to ante up $137 million or so for capital projects at LANL related to pit production in FY2008. That’s money not approved by the House but approved by Senate Appropriations (not yet by the whole Senate). There’s also a $131 million difference in pit production operating funds, mostly at LANL, between the two houses.
It is difficult to tell if anybody at LANL opposes pit production here (anonymous blog entries don’t count, politically speaking). It is generally assumed in Congress and in the press that all LANL staff are foursquare behind pit production at Los Alamos, or for that matter any funding for any nuclear weapons project.
Someone recently wrote to me, in so many words, that the Los Alamos community is too cowardly and self-oriented to be worth engaging. I don't believe that is entirely true nor fair. Of course not everyone will be able to attend. What we are looking for Sunday is that 5 or 10 or 20 people who are engaged and are interested in exploring the moral and public responsibility aspects of the lab's mission. Who are these people? Join us Sunday to find out and to be one yourself!
After this year there will be one more annual budget prepared by the Bush team, probably enough to solidify LANL’s future as the new Rocky Flats if folks here remain silent (pit production policy does not have a significant partisan component, so the arrival of another administration is unlikely to change much).
Why not come on Sunday and talk with Shigeko, some of our Study Group colleagues and myself? Seriously, why not? This will be a small and pleasant gathering, I am sure. Light refreshments will be provided. We're looking forward to meeting you.
Shigeko Sasamori, one of the "Hiroshima Maidens" brought to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery in 1955, is among the survivors interviewed in the August 2007 HBO documentary, "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Ms. Sasamori is an unusually resilient person, full of life and energy today even though her face and hands were horribly burned in the 1945 nuclear explosion. She has since struggled with cancer and other ailments. Her story is part of Los Alamos’s most intimate history.
For further information contact Greg Mello at email@example.com