Planned protest at UC-Berkeley recalls 1960s
''UC-Berkeley,'' a name which became virtually synonymous with the student protests of the 1960s and early '70s, now is becoming closely identified with the growing movement against development of nuclear weapons.
The University of California at Berkeley operates two national scientific laboratories -- at Livermore, Calif., and Los Alamos, N.M. -- out of which have come the designs for every nuclear weapon produced by the United States.
But students, professors, and others of the UC-Berkeley community also make up a large contingent and provide leadership in the nuclear disarmament movement in California, which seems to be gathering momentum. It already has counterparts in East Coast academic communities, reacting to the Reagan administration's commitment to US superiority in nuclear weaponry.
Here, the movement has picked the closest target and most visible symbol of atomic research for a confrontation. The Livermore Action Group (LAG), newly formed and led by Berkeley students, plans a blockade on Feb. 1 of the entrance to the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Some 100 individuals, including Dr. Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon papers fame, will ''commit civil disobedience.'' They expect several thousand to be on hand as a show of strength.
A rally on Saturday, Jan. 30, at Berkeley's Provo Park will be staged to build support for the Monday confrontation.
LAG's aims, its leaders say, are to: ''(1)Gain access to lab employees to allow open dialogue on alternative points of view; (2)freeze all nuclear weapons research and development; and (3)convert the Lawrence Livermore Lab to peaceful, socially constructive uses.''
The chief peaceful use LAG seeks for the lab is research into alternative energy systems -- a small percentage of the program there now. LAG also wants the university to abandon nuclear weapons research at Los Alamos.
Beyond LAG's immediate aims, leaders of the antinuclear weapons movement here say they seek an end to the arms race and eventual dismantling of nuclear arsenals.
Dr. Ellsberg, explaining this view at a San Francisco press conference Jan. 27, said that every time the US introduces a nuclear weapon, the USSR feels it must develop a similar one. He said he does not want to live in ''a world with Russian MX's, Trident II's, Pershing and cruise missiles.''
He said there probably is a two-year gap before the Soviets can develop such weapons, and that the US should immediately take ''unilateral initiatives'' to halt development and stockpiling of such new devices.
The Reagan administration policy of ''arming while talking'' is ''bankrupt,'' Ellsberg charged. UC-Berkeley, he urged, should set an example by separating itself from the arms race.
LAG spokesmen said that university officials have refused to permit lab employees to discuss antinuclear weapons issues with them. They that said it took a law suit to secure the right to place reading material explaining their views in lab buildings.
Although Lawrence Livermore Lab officials have refused to deal with LAG and others opposed to its nuclear weapons role, it is beginning to respond to what is at least a public relations problem.
On Feb. 8 the lab will hold a ''seminar on science, technology, and national defense'' with 20 reporters based in the Bay Area to discuss ''such issues as laser and energy technology, nuclear weapons research, national defense, international relationships, and the range of issues in science.''
Although no representives of antinuclear groups will be there, lab spokesmen no doubt expect to be asked some questions much like the ones LAG is raising. Those same issues are increasingly being raised within the scientific community itself.