Moving beyond nuclear weapons

Military research may shift away from nuclear weapons under Obama.

Change we can all believe in may be coming to the University of California BerkeleyâÄôs two laboratories which deal primarily with nuclear weapons research: Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Congress and the Obama administration are re-evaluating the role of nuclear weapons in national security, potentially shifting the focus of research at the universityâÄôs labs away from nuclear weaponry for good. We welcome this dramatic policy shift from the Bush administration, which could mean a much-needed end to outdated Cold War-era national security policies. ObamaâÄôs administration and Congress are currently compiling reports on the future role of nuclear weaponry in U.S. national security, and the departments of state, energy and defense are conducting an interdepartmental review to help shape a new nuclear weapons policy. As the labs begin shifting their primary area of research, we hope that they move toward the development of clean and alternative energy. However, especially if the Department of Defense gains control of the labs, it is a possibility that the focus could be shifted to other weapons. Research at these top-notch facilities would be best utilized for areas other than national security and weaponry; if allowed to focus research on other issues of real importance, especially the development of clean energy, exponential progress is possible. The recent undertaking by Obama represents an encouraging and dramatic change from his predecessor, the Bush administration, who just two years ago helped lead development at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of the first new hydrogen bomb built by the United States in two decades. We can only hope that the administration and Congress takes full advantage of this opportunity to improve national security, better utilize university research and keep Cold War policies in the past where they belong. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Californian at the University of California Berkeley. Please send comments to [email protected]