One critical sleeper issue in California’s gubernatorial dilemma involved weapons of mass destruction, specifically the continued development of nuclear weapons by the University of California. The UC system has been a partner in the US nuclear weapons industry since the Manhattan Project. While many of us may be very familiar with the Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSB campuses, the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories may not evoke any immediate images or emotions. While these labs conduct cutting-edge research in numerous fields, nuclear weapons development is their core mission. As governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger will nominate five new UC Regents’ by the end of his term, probably selecting from among wealthy campaign supporters. These Regents will influence whether or not UC will bid to continue managing nuclear weapons laboratories owned by the Department of Energy. The recent security lapses, employee fraud, and espionage allegations at Los Alamos do not help UC’s chances. Reports indicate that Lockheed Martin, Bechtel, and the University of Texas plan to bid. This issue is bigger than the UC Regents. As UC students, alumni, faculty and community members, we must have input on the decision. This issue is bigger than California. The question is not which research institution is best suited to manage the labs, but can we redefine national security emphasizing education, environmental sustainability, food security, and health care?
*Michael Coffey, is the Youth Outreach Coordinator of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation