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Former Ukiah teacher and four others enter nuclear weapon stronghold in Washington state

By CHET COLLINS Updated: 12/21/2009 12:02:44 AM PST
Special to the Journal

Susan Crane, who raised a family in Ukiah and helped found Plowshares Peace and Justice Center locally was detained by U.S. Marine Forces along with others after entering the largest nuclear weapon stockpile in the U.S. The naval base is located near Seattle.

The five entered the base early in the morning of Nov. 2, 2009, to call attention to the nation's "Trident" first strike nuclear weapons, which are illegal under international law due to the fact that they are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets, as well as immoral as judged by the standards of Christianity and many other religions.

The group easily entered the Strategic Weapons Facility ­ Pacific (SWFPAC) early in the morning and then continued to walk for hours towards the weapon's bunker. During the long walk military personnel paid no attention as they drove by the group holding nothing but bolt cutters. "We were hidden in plain sight the whole time," Lynne Greenwald said.

They eventually arrived at the fence of the high security area where the nuclear missiles for the Trident submarines are stored. The non-violent activists cut the chain link fence surrounding it entering a "shoot to kill zone". They then walked further and cut through yet another double layered fence, both chain link and barbed wire, successfully entering the bunker.

"We were close to enough firepower, blast, heat and destruction to destroy all life on earth. We were in the presence of massive evil," said Crane.

Once inside they held a banner saying "Disarm Now, Plowshares: Trident: Illegal and Immoral." The unarmed activists were then handcuffed, hooded and held at gunpoint on the cold ground for three hours. The FBI and NCIS questioned them for several hours before releasing them.

The Plowshares group released a statement saying, "The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under International Law and, therefore, under United States law. As U.S. citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor. Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being."

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.

In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 20 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb.) The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

Non-violent actions like these are called Plowshares invoking the words of Isaiah 2:4 "they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore."

More than 100 Plowshare actions similar to this one are part of a worldwide movement since 1980. The Plowshares activist in this case could be prosecuted for misdemeanors according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.

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