WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE
For Immediate Release

Contacts:
William D. Hartung: 212-229-5808, ext. 106
Kathy Guthrie: 202-547-6000, ext. 144

PASSAGE OF "MINI-NUKE" PROVISION COULD LEAD TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THE RESUMPTION OF NUCLEAR TESTING

New York, October 10th - The Pentagon's FY 2001 authorization bill
(H.R. 5408) contains a short section (Sec. 1044) that calls for the
Departments of Defense and Energy to conduct a study on how to defeat
hardened and deeply buried targets such as underground command
bunkers or buried weapons caches. The weapon of choice of some war
planners for burrowing into the ground and destroying such a target
would be a low-yield nuclear warhead.

The provision, introduced by Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Wayne
Allard (R-CO), does not explicitly mention nuclear weapons. But their
clear intention is to lay the groundwork for a resumption of nuclear
testing for the purpose of developing new, low-yield nuclear
warheads, or "mini-nukes." Officials at the US nuclear weapons
laboratories have argued for years for the development of low-yield
nuclear warheads, which they claim would be able to destroy a bunker
built into solid rock, a hundred yards or more underground, without
harming the surrounding population. "The essential argument coming
from the laboratories and supporters of this provision is let's build
a nuclear weapon we can actually use," says William D. Hartung,
President's Fellow at the World Policy Institute.

The idea that the US could build a usable or "safe" nuclear weapon
will have catastrophic consequences internationally. Joe Volk,
Executive Secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation
points out that, "Senators Warner and Allard's mini-nukes, if
deployed, will probably fail in defeating hidden weapons of mass
destruction, but will certainly succeed in killing the current
worldwide nuclear test moratorium and future prospects for the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." It would encourage other nations to
resume nuclear weapons programs, opening the floodgates to a new
nuclear arms race. Moreover, it would starkly contradict the United
States' recent reaffirmation of its obligation under Article VI of
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to "pursue negotiations in good
faith" for the reduction and eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.

"More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the US
continues to possess more than 10,000 nuclear warheads at an annual
price of $35 billion. Clearly, the US government is having a
difficult time weaning itself from its nuclear-weapons addiction,"
adds Hartung. From the Senate's failure to ratify the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty, to the Clinton administration's reluctance in
pursuing arms-reduction talks with Russia, to the current bi-partisan
push for a National Missile Defense system, US policymakers are
endangering world security by continuing to push nuclear weapons as a
key element of US military strategy.

For more information please consult the Friends Committee on National
Legislation website at: www.fcnl.org/issues/arm/minnukeindx.htm

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