Bush’s Nuclear Bunker Buster Goes Bust

October 27th, 2005 - by admin

Washington Post & Friends Committee on National Legislation – 2005-10-27 08:39:16


Great News – Bunker Buster Cancelled
Martin Butcher

(October 26, 2005) — The Bush administration has withdrawn support for the nuclear bunker buster, the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator. As a result, Congress has stopped all funds for the program. The administration has said it will concentrate instead on conventional options for attacking dangerous WMD sites if necessary.

Your support has been vital in this campaign. Over the past three or four years PSR activists have sent close to 100,000 emails to Congress, as well as thousands of faxes, appealing for the nuclear madness the bunker represents to be stopped. Now we have won. Last year the administration was forced to cancel its Advanced Concepts Initiative, an open ended new nukes design program. Now its main new nuke program, the RNEP, is gone.

Thank you for your hard work in persuading Congress to change its mind. Together, the strength of our arguments has overcome the combined might of the labs and the neo-cons who wanted to pursue this hellish vision of nuclear war fighting.

Bush Admin. Drops ‘Bunker-Buster’ Plan

WASHINGTON (October 25, 2005) — The Bush administration has abandoned research into a nuclear “bunker-buster” warhead, deciding instead to pursue a similar device using conventional weaponry, a key Republican senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said funding for the nuclear bunker-buster as part of the Energy Department’s fiscal 2006 budget has been dropped at the department’s request.

The nuclear bunker-buster had been the focus of intense debate in Congress, with opponents arguing that its development as a tactical nuclear weapon could add to nuclear proliferation.

An administration official, speaking on condition on anonymity because negotiations on the department’s spending bill have not yet been completed, confirmed that a decision had been made to concentrate on a nonnuclear bunker-buster.

Administration officials have contended the country must try to develop a nuclear warhead that could destroy deeply buried targets including bunkers tunneled into solid rock. Potential adversaries increasingly are building hardened retreats deep beneath the earth, immune to conventional weapons, the officials said.

But Congress has been cool to the idea of a new nuclear warhead. The House blocked funding for the program, even though the Energy Department had requested only $4 million, scaling back earlier requests.

The Senate approved the $4 million, but a final decision was up to lawmakers working out a compromise between the House and Senate on the department’s budget.

Domenici, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees DOE’s budget, said the conferees had agreed to drop funding for the program at the request of the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the agency that oversees nuclear weapons programs.

“The focus will now be with the Defense Department and its research into earth penetrating technology using conventional weaponry,” Domenici said in a statement. The NNSA “indicated that this research should evolve around more conventional weapons rather than tactical nuclear devices,” the senator said.

“This is a true victory for a more rational nuclear policy,” said Stephen Young, a senior analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nuclear nonproliferation advocacy group. “The proposed weapon, more than 70 times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, would have caused unparalleled collateral damage.”

Last April, a National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that an earth-penetrating nuclear device would likely cause the same casualties as a surface burst if the weapons are of the same size. Such a bomb could cause from several thousand to 1 million casualties, depending on its yield and location, according to the report requested by Congress.

At a congressional hearing earlier this year, NNSA chief Linton Brooks acknowledged there is no way to avoid significant fallout of radioactive debris from use of a bunker-buster warhead.

He said the administration never intended to suggest “that it was possible to have a bomb that penetrated far enough to trap all fallout. I don’t believe the laws of physics will ever let that be true.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., one of Congress’ most vocal opponents of the bunker-buster, has said the nuclear bunker-buster “sends the wrong signals to the rest of the world by reopening the nuclear door and beginning the testing and development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.”

Nuclear “Bunker Buster” Has Been Busted!
Your lobbying played a key role in persuading Congress this week to agree to eliminate all funding for the nuclear “bunker buster,’ effectively rejecting for the second year in a row the president’s request to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons.

The thousands lobby visits, letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls that you helped organized helped persuade members of Congress to eliminate this dangerous nuclear bomb that could have killed over one million people. FCNL learned last evening that Congress has agreed to eliminate funding for the nuclear “bunker buster” in the energy and water appropriations bill conference committee.

Defeating the bunker buster two years in a row shows how little support new nuclear weapons have in Congress. Please email your members of Congress at http://capwiz.com/fconl/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=8168586 or call them at one of their offices to thank them for not funding the bunker buster.

For more information on the nuclear “bunker buster” and nuclear weapons issues, please see: http://www.fcnl.org/nuclear

Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795. fcnl@fcnl.org * www.fcnl.org
phone: (202)547-6000 * toll-free: (800)630-1330

On the Net:
• Energy Department: http://www.doe.gov
• Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/
• National Nuclear Security Administration: http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/