LIVERMORE, Calif. — Among literally thousands of commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6-9, four events at key U.S. nuclear weapons facilities highlighted developments in the struggle to abolish all such weapons.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a thousand demonstrators from many peace and social justice organizations heard Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley Communities against a Radioactive Environment, warn that the Bush administration’s “nuclear posture draws us down a dangerous path toward the use of nuclear weapons again in war.”

“Your presence here at Livermore Lab on the solemn 60th anniversary of the devastating U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima makes a positive difference,” she said. “More people will learn that the U.S. is planning a horrific new earth-penetrating bomb because you and your neighbors are here on this anniversary.”

Among other speakers was Ai Maeoka, whose grandmother survived the Hiroshima blast. Maeoka told the crowd that exploding a new nuclear weapon “is beyond our imagination. We’ll have hibakushas [nuclear bomb survivors] all over the world.”

Demonstrators clapped and shouted their applause as Miguel Bustos, senior policy adviser to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), read Lee’s message urging “adamant opposition” to the Department of Energy’s recent proposal for “a new generation of more versatile nuclear warheads,” and calling for a repeat of last year’s congressional action denying most funds requested to develop new weapons.

A march to the West Gate of the lab and a “Seeds of Change” symbolic planting of sunflower pictures sent by children and adults from all over northern California followed the rally.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., attention was on the possibility of expanding production of plutonium pits — the “triggers” for hydrogen bombs. This would necessitate building a new facility at huge expense and would greatly increase the amount of radioactive landfill at the Los Alamos dump site, said Claire Long, Los Alamos Study Group outreach coordinator, in a telephone interview. During a day-long observance, peace, environmental, anti-death- penalty and other activists came together with hibakusha who shared their experiences, and economists who conducted a workshop on building a post-nuclear economy in the state. A sunflower pageant with thousands of blooms and a ceremonial setting of lanterns on Ashley Pond concluded the observance.

At the Nevada Test Site the theme was, “Many stories, one vision.” Michael Jones, communications director for Pax Christi USA, said the program brought together indigenous peoples’ struggle for their land and a healthy environment, the hibakushas’ legacy from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists’ research findings, religious groups’ moral concerns and peace activists’ determination to win a nuclear-free world. Over 200 of the more than 600 who participated were arrested in the evening at the test site.

At Oak Ridge, Tenn., the focus was on the Y-12 plant where, under the stockpile extension plan, warheads are being upgraded to be effective up to 100 years, said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. With over 15,000 participants, more than double that of previous years, the gathering was the largest peace demonstration ever in eastern Tennessee.

“I look at this as movement building for the long haul,” said Hutchison. “Nuclear weapons are entrenched in our society’s thinking. Changing our cultural emphasis will take a lot of time and effort.”

Hutchison pointed out that the Oak Ridge plant produced the first atomic bomb, and added, “We would like Oak Ridge to be the end as well.”

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