Oakland- Students representing five University of California campus peace groups, which are members of the Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California, will hold a press conference to demand that the UC Regents do everything in their power to uphold international law and disarm Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories. Students had planned to bring their demands to the Regents at their quarterly meeting; however the UC Regents cancelled their meeting because of the impending war. The student press conference will now be held at the UC Regents Headquarters on Thursday March 20, 9 AM, at 1111 Franklin St., Downtown Oakland.

“If the United States declares an illegal war on Iraq, the possibility of the U.S. launching a nuclear attack rises dangerously. Since it is UC scientists designing these nuclear weapons, the Regents are accountable for a potential use of these weapons, that could plunge the world into a nuclear war and obliterate the taboo that has prevented the use of nuclear weapons since the U.S. bombed Japan over 50 years ago,” says UC Santa Cruz student Emily Hell.

Sophia Santiago, a UC Berkeley student, expressed her concern for the important international agreements to which the US is party: “The UC Regents as managers should be holding the labs accountable; they should ensure that the labs are complying fully with the [nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT is an extremely critical document, especially with respect to an imminent attack on Iraq in which the labs’ work will make more probable the use of nuclear weapons.”

Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories design, modify and monitor nuclear weapons. UC has managed the operation of the labs under contracts with the Department of Energy for more than 50 years. Hundreds of undergraduates, graduate students and professors from the Universities are involved in cooperative research with the laboratories. Recently, both Livermore and Los Alamos were allocated $15 million to study the development of a new nuclear weapon: the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.

Michael Cox, student at UC Los Angeles, describes how the UC managed labs violate international law and jeopardize global security, “Not only is the research and development of nuclear weapons like the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator illegal, immoral, and a complete waste of resources, this work could be in preparation for the deployment of nuclear weapons on Iraq and the other 6 nations listed in the Nuclear Posture review. The United states is belligerently hypocritical in its proliferation of WMD and irresponsible in its position of world leadership.”

According to UC Berkeley student Valerie Kao, the central critique of the UC Regents management of the National Laboratories must address the Regents systematic failure to bring the two labs into compliance with international law. “UC management could be criticized on the sole basis of its track record, having failed to protect whistleblowers and to hold stronger accountability with Lab administration. However, the real issue is the labs’ role in reviving the arms race and preventing real steps toward international disarmament, as required by international law.”

The Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California has partnered with local community organizations including the Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland, Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara.

Tara Dorabji: (925) 443-7148 Tri-Valley CAREs
Michael Coffey: (805) 452-1166, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Valerie Kao: (510) 841-8365, UC Berkeley student
Michael Cox: (818) 399-0349, UC Los Angeles student