Saturday, March 03, 2007

A New Nuclear Warhead

Last January, I posted on a design competition between the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore laboratories to design a new nuclear warhead to replace the existing stockpile. The trick was to do so in a manner that would not require any testing in violation of several treaties involving nuclear test bans. At that point in time, the administration had decided to go with features of both proposals submitted by the labs. That decision has been rescinded. Lawrence Livermore has been awarded the contract, according to NY Times.

The Bush administration announced yesterday the winner of a competition to design the nation’s first new nuclear weapon in nearly two decades and immediately set out to reassure Russia and China that the weapon, if built, would pose no new threat to either nation.

If President Bush decides to authorize production and Congress agrees, the research could lead to a long, expensive process to replace all American nuclear warheads in the next few decades with new designs.

Administration officials said the Livermore design had won primarily because its main elements were detonated beneath the Nevada desert decades ago, making it a better candidate under the nuclear test ban treaty, which the United States has signed but not ratified.
[Emphasis added]

While the article tends to dwell on the issue of the "hybrid" plan initially decided upon and then rejected because of criticism on all fronts, the real issue on this latest initiative has to do with igniting another nuclear weapons race in the world.

The potentially expensive initiative faces an uncertain future and has generated much criticism from skeptics who argue that a new design for the nuclear arsenal is unneeded and is a potential stimulus to a global nuclear arms race.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a group in Washington. “There is an urgent need to reduce these weapons, not expand them. This will keep the Chinese, the Russians and others on guard to improve their own stockpiles.”

It is no accident that this news was released on a Friday, a day typically set aside for 'bad news we don't want folks paying attention to.' It is also no accident that the news was released after the breakthrough in talks with North Korea over their alleged nuclear weapons program.

The hypocrisy of this administration is stunning.

And the ticking of the Doomsday Clock is speeding up, once again.



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