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In honor of his many contributions to arms control efforts, about 30 members of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security (LACACIS) gathered at the Central Avenue Grill Monday to honor retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
Several members commended the senator for his dedication.
“When you say ‘The Senator’ in Los Alamos everybody knows who you mean,” said Randy Erickson, deputy division leader of the Los Alamos Decision Applications Division.
Erickson said the same is true in Moscow and London when the discussion is on plutonium disposition. He credited Domenici with institutionalizing the plutonium disposition program to give it continuity, and with providing the funding to bring the Russians into the program.
Domenici was a player in keeping nuclear defense programs going during the Cold War, said Terry Hawkins, director of Defense Programs at LANL.
The senator was also a major advocate of non-proliferation programs, Hawkins said, especially the Nunn-Lugar program which has been critical to keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists..
Dave Thomson, a founder of LACACIS and author of “A Guide to the Nuclear Arms Control Treaties,” gave a history of the organization and how the senator esponded positively to contacts urging action on nuclear arms control treaties.
He said Domenici was instrumental in obtaining funding for the U.S. on-site inspection agency for the INF treaty and in getting the START II treaty to a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Thomson also praised the senator’s essential continuing role in the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici legislation that enabled the removal and destruction of Russian missiles and warheads, and provided security for Russian nuclear materials.
Scientist Louis Rosen said that Domenici’s “competence, wisdom, energy and integrity” endowed him with the influence and leadership to manage and contain the challenges of arms control, nuclear non-proliferation and world peace.
He added, “Decades ago, the Chancellor of West Germany predicted that absent worldwide acceptance of nuclear energy, there will be war.
“In my humble opinion, no one has done more to avoid that end-game than Sen. Pete Domenici.”
LACACIS President Cheryl Rofer presented the senator with a certificate for Outstanding Vision and Leadership in Arms Control and Nonproliferation, and a medallion engraved with the legend, “In Recognition for Initiatives for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.”
Domenici addressed the group with his concerns about energy supplies, where he expects nuclear energy to play a large role – but worried that there may not be enough trained engineers and scientists to sustain the effort.
He said the nation must build a bridge to a future in which it is no longer dependent on crude oil.
Finally, he expressed his gratification at the success of his nonproliferation initiatives.