An 83-year-old Catholic nun is facing up to 30 years in prison for breaking into a Tennessee government security complex that houses a massive supply of weapons-grade uranium.
Sister Megan Rice, along with two companions, broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28, 2012. According to Mother Jones, they used solely a hammer and bolt cutters in order to work their way through three fences, as well as the rest of one of the nation’s most complex security systems. When they finally arrived outside the building, Sister Rice and her accomplices sprayed peace slogans and human blood on the wall in order to convey their stance against nuclear weapons.
Sister Rice, 57-year-old carpenter Greg Boertje-Obed and 63-year-old Vietnam veteran Michael Walli now all face federal prosecution of up to 30 years. Their most prominent crime is “sabotaging national defense material,” and their sentence hearing is scheduled to take place on January 28th.
The National Nuclear Security spends $150 million per year on security at the complex, which the Department of Energy Inspector General described as “one of the most secure facilities in the United States.” The fact that Rice was able to so easily break into the facility demonstrates a significant security flaw in the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal.
Despite global efforts pushing for nuclear proliferation, the Y-12 complex is a continued reminder of the U.S.’s enormous stockpile of the weapons. Out of the eight known states with active nuclear weapons, the U.S. is second only to Russia. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Y-12 complex was created during the original Manhattan project in 1945, but continues to be used and updated today. It also houses uranium for use in U.S. naval reactors.
Sister Rice, Boertje-Obed and Walli all are members of the Christian Plowshares Movement, and their actions were allegedly conducted on religious grounds.