LOS ANGELES -- Despite widespread opposition, the University of California Board of Regents voted Friday to start talks to renew its $2 billion federal contract to run two nuclear weapons laboratories and a research facility.
'The vote was not a surprise, even with opposition from the faculty Academic Senate on all nine UC campuses,' said Dr. Geroge Lyou, a spokesman for the anti-nuclear group Committee to Bridge the Gap.
The regents' oversight committee on the labs voted unanimously on Thursday to back negotiating the new contracts.
The full board, meeting on the UCLA campus, voted 13-3 with one abstention to approve starting negotitations to renew the pacts. The final vote on the five-year contract will come in September 1992.
The university has been managing work at the laboratories for nearly 50 years.
Opposition to the classified work, performed under contract with the federal Department of Energy at the Lawrence Livermore lab in California and the Los Alamos facility in New Mexico, goes back nearly three decades. The work at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory is not classified.
'We think that the design and manufacture of weapons is inconsistent with the basic educational mission of the University of California,' Lyou said.
The 'no' votes on the issue were cast by Yori Wada, alumni regent Martha Newkirk and student regent Jennie Doh, who attends the Irvine campus. Wada has voted against the contracts twice before.
Regent Yvonne Brathwaite Bruke, who has called upon the univeristy to take steps to distance itself from the weapons work, abstained from the vote.
The two weapons labs employ about 15,500 workers, while the Berkeley facility has about 3,200 employees. The three facilities generate $12 million in annual management fees for the university.
UC President David Gardner, who is a regent, supported the measure, saying, 'The laboratories over the years have served the vital interests of the Untied States, contributed to the preservation of peace and helped advance the cause of democracy and individual liberty throughout the world.'