Press Conference Speech to Stop the UA Nuclear Weapons Program – FOIA Disclosure & City Resolution Kick Off

Hello everyone! Thank you for coming to this Press Conference for our Campaign to Stop the University of Arkansas Nuclear Weapons Program!

We’re gathered here today for two reasons.  First, we’re here to disclose findings from a Freedom of Information Act Request (or FOIA) we made about the U of A Nuclear Weapons Program, which I’ll hereafter refer to simply as The Program.  The second reason is to kick off an effort to pass a city council resolution.

For anyone that has investigated the public record of the University’s Program, it becomes immediately apparent that we know very little.  Before our campaign started in January, there were only 2 public reports about it.  The first was a 2017 report from the University announcing a Master Collaboration Agreement (or MCA) with Honeywell International. To the untrained reader, that report sounds entirely innocuous. The truth is hidden behind the euphemism “nuclear security.”  It doesn’t mention what’s really happening, the researching and developing of nuclear weapons components.  

The only other public report was called Schools of Mass Destruction by the Nobel Peace Prize-Winning organization ICAN.   ICAN is the organization that spearheaded the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force as international law this past January.  (Give it up for ICAN & the Nuclear Bomb Ban Treaty!) Their report listed the U of A as one of about 50 American universities involved in nuclear weapons production.  

However, this report still didn’t provide a lot of crucial details.  For instance, how much money is involved? Which faculty members and how many students are involved?  What parts of the bombs or bomb types are they working on? Is the research being done at the University, or at Honeywell’s nuclear weapons facility in Kansas City, or both?  

Our campaign reached out to various UA Administrators seeking answers to these questions, and was met with uniform public relations talking points about The Program being “lawful, appropriate and beneficial.”  And as we pressed for more information, they responded in unison that they can say nothing else due to a nondisclosure agreement.  Due to this wall of secrecy, we filed a FOIA request.  It seemed we were being stonewalled for the last few months, but finally we received the entire MCA, a key 45 page document that has previously not been released to the public, and is now available in full text on my website at abeltomlinson.com.

Most of the document is dry contract language and laden with euphemisms; the words “nuclear weapons” are not mentioned once, but it does mention that The Program is regulated by “the Atomic Energy Act” and “the Arms Export Control Act.”   We also learned that the U of A Engineering College is tapping into an $11.7 billion Honeywell contract (DOE prime contract number DE-NA0002839), which is the funding stream for Honeywell’s production of 85% of all the non-nuclear components for the nuclear weapons arsenal.  The exact amount of money the U of A is receiving specifically is not mentioned.  The MCA details an open-ended funding potential through something called “Separately Negotiated Agreements.”  The types of bombs and parts of the bombs the University is working on are not mentioned either.

However, over the past few days, I found answers to some of the missing information. After more deeply searching university websites relating to graduate theses and grants, I discovered some of the specific professors, students and engineering departments that have worked and are working on The Program.  I discovered some of the specific nuclear weapons technology they are working on.  I also discovered specific funding amounts for some of the projects, in the hundreds of thousands of dollar range. (read some of the projects & funding amounts)  Lastly, I also discovered that the University was involved in nuclear weapons research for Honeywell, on a smaller scale, even before the MCA was signed in 2017 (under $4.6 billion Honeywell Contract No. DE-NA-0000622).

From the FOIA request, we also learned that UA students and faculty are not only researching and developing the next generation of nuclear weapons, but that engineering students may be unwittingly working on nuclear weapons components.  The MCA includes a section about Student Design Projects, which says Honeywell will provide engineering design problems that will be used in an Engineering Course.  Based on the vague language, it’s possible that students taking this Engineering Course are not fully informed that the engineering problems they’re solving are to help build nuclear weapons. 

From the FOIA request, we also learned that UA students and faculty are not only researching and developing nuclear weapons technologies here in Fayetteville, but they’re also traveling to Honeywell’s nuclear weapons manufacturing facility in Kansas City.  This further elucidates how the U of A is very deeply involved in building the bombs.  The MCA clearly outlines a near complete merging of Honeywell and UA resources, both physical and human resources.  The contract says that Honeywell will be provided with fully equipped U of A office space, and access to UA meetings, staff, facilities and equipment.  And vice versa, UA students and faculty are provided all the same at Honeywell’s nuclear weapons factory in Kansas City.

Lastly, we discovered that the University is functioning as a Schools-to-Nuclear-Weapons-Complex Pipeline, with students getting hands on training at the Honeywell nuclear weapons factory.  Also, if you search on Linkedin, you will find numerous former UA engineering students now working at Honeywell’s factory and other war machine corporations, like Lockheed Martin, many of which previously participated in The Program.  

The second reason we are here today is to kick off an effort to introduce and pass a Fayetteville City Council resolution to end the UA Program & support the U.N. Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.  Now, I want to read the pre-ambulatory clauses of our proposed resolution.

WHEREAS, nuclear weapons, the most devastating weapons ever created by human beings, are an existential threat to all higher life on earth with their immense destructive capacity and trans-generational radiation effects; and

WHEREAS, the nine nuclear nations combined possess approximately 14,000 nuclear weapons, more than 90% of which are held by Russia and the United States, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan; and

WHEREAS, scientists have published studies that indicate a nuclear war on cities far from Arkansas could send millions of tons of smoke into the stratosphere, blocking sunlight and creating a “nuclear winter” for many years, causing massive or total food crop failure, mass or universal famine and grave social disruption for billions of humans, including those in Fayetteville; and

WHEREAS, our testing, production, and use of nuclear weapons makes clear the racial injustice and harm to human health caused from uranium mining, fallout on indigenous lands downwind from the Nevada Test Site, from 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and

WHEREAS, The United States is set to spend at least $1.7 trillion to replace its nuclear arsenal, which is fueling a global arms race, and that money would be better used for necessary programs such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and clean energy; and

WHEREAS, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, requires the United States, Russia, China, France, and England to negotiate “in good faith” for elimination of their nuclear arsenals; and

WHEREAS, in July 2017, 122 countries voted in favor of adopting the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is a legally binding multilateral Treaty among the States Parties to the document, advanced by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and the treaty entered into legal force on January 22, 2021; and

WHEREAS, 53 cities in the United States have now approved resolutions supportive of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC, as well as the states of California, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine; and

WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors approved a resolution “Calling on the United States to welcome the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to Act Now to Prevent Nuclear War and Eliminate Nuclear Weapons,” and Fayetteville’s Mayor is a long-standing member and former chair of Mayors for Peace; and

WHEREAS, Fayetteville has a demonstrated history of opposing nuclear weapons, including the holding of annual Hiroshima Nagasaki Remembrance events since 1979, and the two most recent mayors (Mayor Jordan and Mayor Coody) have publicly read proclamations opposing the existence of nuclear weapons annually for the past 20 years; and

WHEREAS, in 2017, the University of Arkansas Engineering College entered into a Master Collaboration Agreement with Honeywell International for University of Arkansas faculty and students to research and develop nuclear weapons components here in Fayetteville and at Honeywell’s nuclear weapons production facility in Kansas City, funded via an $11.7 billion DOE (Contract).

I will just summarize the operative clauses of the resolution.  It says that the City Council supports the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and demands that the U of A terminate the MCA Program with Honeywell. It also directs the City Clerk to annually send copies of the resolution to top government officials and UA administrators.

In conclusion, I want to issue a Call to Action.  Please join me in calling and writing the entire Fayetteville City Council and Mayor to urge them to sponsor, introduce and pass this resolution.  We need a lot of people to do this to show that it has community support.

Thank you for your time and attention.

May Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Peace Prevail!

 

 

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