Friday, April 01, 2005

Is Bush pushing a nuclear arms race?

This interesting article appeared in Spiegel Online. Full story here.

Leigh Flayton in Mercury, Nevada--In a barren stretch of Nevada desert 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a large modular tower and a steel crane, once used for testing nuclear bombs, stand in plain view of anyone passing through the area known to the U.S. government as U6c. They are easily detected by satellites orbiting overhead.

Later this year, scientists at the Nevada Test Site will use the structures to conduct an experiment called Unicorn, which will help determine whether the site is prepared to resume full-scale nuclear tests if ordered to do so by the president. Unicorn, which works with plutonium and high explosives, will resemble an old-fashioned underground nuclear test from the Cold War era, when bombs were placed in towers aboveground and lowered beneath the surface by custom-built cranes...

Nuclear watchdogs in U.S., however, warn that the Bush administration is fueling a new arms race. They contend the government is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1970 international agreement that states that countries with nuclear weapons must work toward disarmament. The Bush administration, they charge, is pouring money into new nuclear weapons programs and performing nuclear tests, spurring other nations to do the same.

The public "is in the dark about the intentions of this administration in terms of nuclear policy," says Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, who is an active proponent of nuclear disarmament. "I think they would be more than happy to go back to full-scale testing. At a time when weapons of mass destruction are in the forefront of everyone's mind, this administration has not made the security and dismantlement of weapons, nor the retention of know-how by friendly states, a priority."

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