Nuclear Free Cambridge, a local task force, last week began a petition drive to place a binding referendum on this November's ballot that would prohibit nuclear weapons research and development in Cambridge.
Leslie Ceagan, an active proposal proponent, said this week that the petition "would establish Cambridge as a city which is nuclear-free in that work on nuclear weapons would be prohibited within the city."
The referendum would make illegal any work involving the research, development, testing, evaluation, production, maintenance, storage, transportation, or disposal of nuclear weapons in Cambridge. If passed, the ordinance would take effect on Oct. 1, 1985.
At a public meeting held last Thursday evening, the Nuclear-Free Cambridge group outlined its plans before an audience of about 60 Carolyn H. Magid a member of the Nuclear-Free Cambridge steering committee said the group must collect at least 4000 signatures before August 1983 to place the referendum on the ballot.
Cambridge will not be completely nuclear free however even if the referendum passes Ceagan explained that exemptions to the law include "nuclear medicine research and application and basic research for which the primary purpose is not the development of nuclear weapons."
If the referendum passes in November Cambridge will join about 10 other nuclear free zones in the country. The city has been a leader in the nuclear freeze movement since the issue gained national attention in the past couple of years Cambridge was one of the first in the country to support a nuclear freeze, through a non-binding referendum in 1981. Also that year, the Cambridge City Council became the first local body to reject federal civil defense programs.
Nuclear research in progress at Harvard and MIT would be allowed to continue.
George W. Brandenburg '65, assistant director of Harvard's high energy physics program, said that nuclear-related research at Harvard is "pure science only with no practical nuclear applications."
"As far as I know, we do no nuclear weapons-related research." Allan F. Henry, professor of nuclear engineering at MIT said yesterday. MIT does have numerous private research contracts with utilities groups such as the Electric Power Institute, he added.
The companies that would be hardest hit by the potential legislation are the Arthur D. Little. American Scientific and Engineering, and Charles Stark Draper Labor stories Magid said Draper Labs provides, "its" accuracy which insures first strike capabilities for nuclear weapons" of the United States.
Joseph F. O'Connor vice president for administration at Draper Labs, said yesterday that his company does develop guidance, navigation and control systems for nuclear weapons. He added that they do "a total of $140 million worth of nuclear related research."
Opponents of the referendum also question its legality O'Connor said. "We're working on programs that have been approved by Congress and the question is whether any local community can take actions that are contrary to what Congress is doing in this area."
And Russel B. Higgly, Cambridge city solicitor, said. "I'm sure it would be litigated to death--right up to the Supreme Court."
But the acting chairman of Cambridge's Nuclear Disarmament Education and Peace Commission, Mark Levine, said that "there are already 10 or 12 other nuclear-free zones in the United States.
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