Nuclear Weapons

Replacement warhead may not be so “reliable”

The JASON Defense Advisory group recently issued a report saying that more work needs to be done on the Reliable Replacement Warhead in order to show that it is, in fact, reliable, short of conducting underground nuclear tests:

"Certification is not yet assured," said an unclassified summary of the JASON report, which also raised concerns about a plan to use new technology to make a stolen bomb useless should terrorists steal it. The report asked for an "improved physical understanding" of how the new system would work.

The push to develop a new weapon, known as the reliable replacement warhead, also has run into unexpected opposition in Congress. The Bush administration had requested $89 million for the project in fiscal 2008, up from $36 million a year ago. But a key House committee, followed by the full chamber, voted in June to eliminate all funding, saying the U.S. needs to reassess its nuclear weapons strategy.

Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, said Monday that only after the agency had completed the panel’s recommendations could Congress consider going ahead with the new weapon.

The peace and security community has expressed concerns from the outset that the military would be unlikely to accept an untested weapon in its arsenal.  The Bush administration has tried to turn the tables on this argument in a desperate attempt to salvage congressional funding, claiming that the RRW must be funded to avoid the need to test our current arsenal.  Once again, a report by an impartial third party has undermined the administration’s rationale for this dangerous, unnecessary program.  Write your senators today and urge them to cosponsor S. 1914, a bill that would cut the funding for the RRW until at least 2010.

Categories: Nuclear Weapons