"NEVADA SWEETHEARTS" TO APPEAR IN FEDERAL COURT FOR NONVIOLENT ACTION TO STOP SUBCRITICAL NUCLEAR TESTING
(Las Vegas - SN) Two staff members, Susi Snyder and Reinard Knutsen, of Shundahai Network, an international anti-nuclear and indigenous support organization with an office in Las Vegas, will appear in Federal Court, to face charges stemming from a September 8th, 1998 nonviolent direct action known as the "Nevada Sweethearts Action".
The trial beginning, Wednesday, February 17, at 1:30 pm, takes place at the Foley Federal Building on 300 S. Las Vegas Blvd, where the two sweethearts celebrated their anniversary by locking themselves together on a ledge above the front entrance to bring public attention and pressure to stop the ongoing subcritical nuclear weapons program at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). "Bagpipe", the fourth subcritical test since 1997 was exploded on September 26. Since then two other subcritical tests "Cimarron" and "Clarinet" have been conducted at the test site.
"We did not break the law," says Reinard Knutsen. "We are in fact citizen enforcers of the law. The U.S. government is breaking international law by their continuing nuclear weapons programs and Nevada law by threatening our land and water with radioactive contamination and our people with cancer and sickness. It is necessary for us as U.S. citizens to do everything within our power to uphold the law and protect ourselves and our community."
"We are not the criminals here," declares Susi Snyder. "The DOE must be held accountable to the public for the destruction it is wreaking on our environment, our health, and our world. Only when the last nuclear weapon is dismantled, and the last nuclear power plant is decommissioned, and all of the world's nuclear wastes are stored in a safe and sane manner, will we end our vigilance!"
The two "Sweethearts" will use first amendment, international law, the Treaty of Ruby Valley, and necessity under imminent duress as some of their legal arguments during the trial to prove that they were upholding international, national and Nevada law by taking their nonviolent direct action.
Subcritical nuclear weapons tests use plutonium and high powered chemical explosives to study the physics of nuclear weapons material. These tests will help expand the knowledge base that scientists from the national Laboratories are developing under the Stockpile Stewardship Program, a key element of the Department of Energy's (DOE) 6.2 billion defense budget the Clinton administration has requested for next year. The plutonium is left 960 feet below ground dangerously close to the groundwater which has already been found to be contaminated by past nuclear tests. This groundwater flows out of the test site towards Amargosa Valley which depends on this water for its agriculture and dairy industries.
"This is poisoning our water," says Susi Snyder. "The deadly results of atomic testing have not been made clear to the people of this country, and the Stockpile Stewardship Program is another blanket the DOE is pulling over the eyes of the people."
Subcritical tests help fan the flames that continue the cold war mind set. Russia took up the "challenge" by detonating five subcriticals in 1998 and China reportedly has an ongoing subcritical program. Both India and Pakistan have conducted full scale nuclear weapons test last year citing frustration with U.S. hypcoracy through the continued U.S. nuclear testing program. These subcritical tests have created international outrage at U.S. hypocrisy and threaten the international ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
"We have tried for three years to stop this nuclear weapons programs by vigiling, writing letters and making phone calls to the White House and Congress, attending Department of Energy meetings and hearings," says Knutsen. "We took this nonviolent direct action because we were and continue to be under imminent duress. We felt like we had no other options but to put our bodies on the line to stop this nuclear nightmare that will effect people for generations to come."
NTS is within the boundaries of the Western Shoshone Nation known as Newe Sogobia. The Western Shoshone National Council (WSNC) has long been opposed to U.S. nuclear weapons and waste programs conducted within their territory outlined by the Treaty of Ruby Valley ratified by Congress in 1886. A resolution was passed by the WSNC in 1995 declaring their nation to be a nuclear free zone.
Anti-nuclear supporters and friends of the "Sweethearts" will gather in front of the Federal Building at 12:45 pm for a prayer vigil. The defendants and others will be available to answer questions before and after the trial.
CONTACT: Susi Snyder or Reinard Kuutsen (702) 647-3095 or firstname.lastname@example.org