Nevada Desert Experience

Nevada Desert Experience

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The Nevada Desert Experience is a name for the movement to stop U.S. nuclear weapons testing that came into use in the middle 1980s. It is also the name of a particular anti-nuclear
The anti-nuclear movement is a social movement that opposes the use of nuclear technologies. Many direct action groups, environmental groups, and professional organisations have identified themselves with the movement at the local, national, and international level...

 organization which continues to create public events to question the morality and intelligence of the U.S. nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s program, with a main focus on the U.S. Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site
Nevada Test Site
The Nevada National Security Site , previously the Nevada Test Site , is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in southeastern Nye County, Nevada, about northwest of the city of Las Vegas...


Activists working for social justice, environmental preservation, and international peace organized a peace vigil to last six weeks long in the Spring of 1982 about 60 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

 at the entrance to the Nevada Test Site. In 1983 they repeated the vigil, calling it the Lenten Desert Experience. This anarchist group of Christian organizers decided that the program had been successful enough to start an organization, which led to a faith-based aspect to the nuclear abolition movement. They named it "Nevada Desert Experience" or NDE because of the work within the prayer-actions for peace that included learning to appreciate the Mojave
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

 and the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

 Deserts of North America. Organizers believed that appreciation of the beauty and power of the natural environment, coupled with a universal code of ethics (the Golden Rule
Ethic of reciprocity
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or moralitythat essentially states either of the following:* : One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself....

) organically leads humans to make a stand for peace and environmental justice.

The movement's immediate goal of ending nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site was met in 1992, when President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 signed a moratorium on underground nuclear weapons tests. The abolition movement, led by NDE and the Western Shoshone
Western Shoshone
Western Shoshone comprises several Shoshone tribes that are indigenous to the Great Basin and have lands identified in the Treaty of Ruby Valley 1863. They resided in Idaho, Nevada, California, and Utah. The tribes are very closely related culturally to the Paiute, Goshute, Bannock, Ute, and...

-based Shundahai Network were sparked back into action with the renewal of non-nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site in 1997. These "subcritical" bombs use fissile materials which do not reach a self-sustaining chain reaction of a typical nuclear bomb. The bombs are designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

 and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, whereby the data collected can be fed to computers to simulate full-scale nuclear explosions for the NSA and DOE
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

. Their explosive yield is low, and small amounts of radiation may be released. Because each subcritical experiment costs roughly 20 million dollars (USD) and much time from the humans working within the nuclear weapons management industry, the tests indicate to nuclear abolition activists a strong continued interest (within the U.S. Government) in favor of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the Nevada Desert Experience continues to work for deep ecological sensitivities and social peacemaking, with one goal being to clean up and contain the contamination created by 55 years of nuclear testing in Nevada & Western Shoshone country.

In protest to UAV attacks in Pakistan
Drone attacks on Pakistan by the United States of America
The United States government, led by the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division, has made a series of attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan since 2004 using drones . These attacks are part of the US' War on Terrorism campaign, seeking to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants...

 and the perceived extremely high danger of harming civilians
, in an event sponsored by Nevada Desert Experience, Father Louie Vitale
Louie Vitale
Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM, is a Franciscan priest, activist, and a co-founder of Nevada Desert Experience. He has engaged in civil disobedience for nearly four decades in pursuit of peace and justice, and has been arrested more than 200 times. Vitale says that St...

, Kathy Kelly
Kathy Kelly
Kathy Kelly is an American peace activist, pacifist and author, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has been described as "probably the most respected leader in the...

, Stephen Kelly, SJ
Stephen Kelly (SJ)
Fr. Stephen Kelly, SJ is a priest of the Society of Jesus who worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Central America for many years.He is an activist, has participated in a number of Plowshares Movement protests and is a war-tax resister....

, John Dear
John Dear
John Dear is an American Catholic priest, Christian pacifist, author and lecturer. He has been arrested over 75 times in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against war, injustice and nuclear weapons.-Studies:...

, and others were arrested outside the Air Force Base on Wednesday April 9, 2009. Subsequent monthly protests have been ongoing and conducted by a number of organizations including Code Pink
Code Pink
Code Pink: Women for Peace is an anti-war group that is mainly composed of women. It has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and many more chapters in the U.S. as well as several in other countries...


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