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Congress about to vote on new nuclear weapons PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Wednesday, 19 May 2004 02:12
In the FY 2005 budget being debated in the U.S. Congress, there are a number of items that would advance American development of new nuclear weapons. Among them are plans for a king - size nuclear "bunker - buster" that could kill millions, and speed up plans for resuminng nuclear testing in Nevada.     

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are about to vote o­n the Fiscal Year 2005 Defense Authorization Bill and Energy and Water Appropriation Bills. The Bush Administration has requested $6.85 billion for US nuclear weapons activities such as research, development, testing and production programs, the highest budget for nuclear weapons since the all-time record set under President Reagan under the Cold War.

At a time of war and record deficits, these programs send a clear "do as I say, not as I do" message to the rest of the world and threaten to undermine the nation's attempts to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

There are many nuclear weapons programs that deserve scrutiny. However, four key programs are likely to be addressed and voted o­n:

1. The Nuclear "Bunker-Buster"

$27.5 million in funding for the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator" (or "bunker-buster") research and development to modify two existing nuclear weapons with explosive powers fifty times that of the bomb used over Hiroshima for destroying deep underground bunkers. Even these large nuclear weapons would be ineffective to the depths that modern bunkers can be built and the collateral damage from such an explosion would kill millions if the bunker was located beneath a major city.

2. Advanced Nuclear Weapons

$9 million in funding for the "Advanced Concepts Initiative" which gives US nuclear weapons labs money to design new mini-nuclear weapons (known as "mini-nukes" or low-yield nuclear weapons) and other new kinds of nuclear warheads. Even the smallest yield nuclear weapon would create heavy collateral damage. Their small size could lead the President to more readily consider their use in future conflicts. Their research, development and potential use encourages other nations to consider them a desirable weapon to own.

3. Modern Pit Facility - New Nuclear Bomb Plant

$29.8 million in funding for the "Modern Pit Facility," a factory that will cost at least $4 billion and could produce 125-450 plutonium pits, the cores of modern nuclear warheads, each year. The United States and Russia are supposed to be reducing their arsenals of nuclear weapons under the "Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty," not building new o­nes. Replacement warheads are not needed as new studies are finding that existing weapons last much longer than previously expected.

4. Readiness to Test Nuclear Weapons

$30 million in funding for "Enhanced Test Readiness," a program to prepare the Nevada Test Site to resume underground nuclear testing. The United States has tested more nuclear weapons than any other country and possesses an advantage in nuclear-weapons knowledge that is unmatched. Increasing the readiness to test nuclear weapons sends the wrong signal to other nations that the United States may be prepared to break the current 14-year moratorium to not test nuclear weapons and resume a nuclear arms race.

(courtesy Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, www.napf.org)  

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2004 02:12

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