By Pia A. Gaarder
The Oli Fund has put 177 million NOK into the US company Honeywell International Inc.. Through this investment, some of our common oil fortune is mingling inside the most delicate production processes making nuclear warheads.
Honeywell International is not primarily an arms manufacturer, but it is still a central player in US nuclear weapons’ production. The company is part of the consortium which on behalf of the US Energy Department runs the Pantex Plant in Texas.
Pantex Plant is the only company in the US that assembles and dismantles nuclear warheads. At the Pantex Plant also goes on a continuous up-grading of American nuclear warheads. The plant is thus highly central in the modernisation of the nuclear arsenal.
In addition, Honeywell runs the Kansas City Plant in Missouri, which manufactures electronical and mechanical components for the actual nuclear warheads.
Commenting NorWatch’s findings, Nei til Atomvåpen (NTA - No to Nuclear weapons) spokesperson Ole Kopreitan pointed to the fact that 92 percent of the Norwegian population are opposed to nuclear weapons.
- It is a democratical principle that politicians shall follow the public majority, but normal democratical rules are put aside in nuclear policy making. One should at least avoid earning money on a company that manufactures nuclear weapons, said Mr. Kopreitan.
Both Pantex Plant and Kansas City Plant are under the Energy Department National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) umbrella, belonging within the narrow circle of carefully chosen plants that are given permission to involve with the technology and explosives in the nuclear warheads.
Even though Pantex Plant is government owned, the actual management and operation responibility is given to others. On behalf of the US Energy Department, the Pantex Plant is run by BWXT Pantex, COE and Sandia National Laboratory.
BWXT Pantex is established soley with the intent to run the Pantex Plant, and it consists of BWX Technologies Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and Bechtel National Inc.. Those three won the open tender competition in 2000 and was awarded a five year contract, worth in total 1,5 billion US dollars.
Sandia National Laboratory is run by Sandia Corporation, a wholly ownd subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp.. The Oil Fund has – as NorWatch have coverd in a seperate article – invested 131 million NOK in Lockheed Martin. The company is behind the actual development and construction of the Trident I and II missiles, in which the US Defence has placed half its total nuclear arsenal. Through Sandia Corporation, Lockheed Martin is thus even more involved in the production of nuclear bombs at the Pantex Plant.
Prior to the disarmament treaty being put into action, there where not mere assembly of nuclear weapons, but also actual production going on at the Pantex Plant. The last nuclear warhead, av type W88, is supposed to have been manufactured in 1990.
There is still a continuous up-grading and maintenance of existing warheads, and the Pantex Plant is a key venue in this process: The plant in Texas maintains and tests US nuclear weapons, and makes sure to incorporate new technologies to make the weapons securer and/or more effective.
In addition, the Pantex Plant is responsible for re-assembling nuclear weapons that are being withdrawn from the nuclear arsenal, the temporary stocking of plutonium cores from re-assembled nuclear weapons, as well as the development of chemical high-explosives surrounding the nuclear weapons’ core.
Kansas City Plant
The Kansas City Plant is, like Pantex, one of the few Government owned nuclear arms plants in the US. The plant is run, on behalf of the US Energy Department, by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies (FM&T), which is a unit within Honeywell International.
On Honeywell’s own website, FM&T is described briefly under the Aerospace section.
In 2000 Honeywell FM&T won the Energy Department’s tender competition for the operation of the City Kansas Plant. The five year contract was worth 1,8 billion US dollars. However, Honeywell (or the company’s direct predecessors) has been running the plant ever since 1949.
The Norwegian Petroleum Fund has invested 177 409 455 Norwegian kroner in Honeywell International Inc.. That is equal to 0,072 percent of the company shares. The industrial giant Honeywell today employs some 115 000 people, and has a turnover of 24 billion US dollars.
Honeywell is among the key actors in management and up-grading of the US nuclear arsenal. The company is part of the BWXT Pantex consortium, which on behalf of the US Energy Department runs Pantex Plant in Texas. Pantex is the only company in the US able and allowed to assemble and dismantle nuclear warheads. The plant also up-grades US warheads. In addition, Honeywell runs Kansas City Plant in Missouri. This plant manufactures electronic and mechanical components for the warheads.
Norwatch Newsletter 7-8/02