Friday, June 6, 2003
1. THE PITS: NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW CALLS FOR MODERN PIT FACILITY
According to an environmental impact statement released
by the Department of Energy, the United States is the only nuclear power
that does not have a capability to manufacture plutonium pits suitable
for use in its weapons stockpile. Plutonium pits were manufactured at
the Rocky Flats Plant in Golden, Colorado until 1989, when the plant
was shut down due to environmental and safety concerns. Since 1989 DOE
has been without a large-scale capacity to produce plutonium pits. A
small interim capacity is now being established at Los Alamos that could
meet replacement needs barring some unforseen problem with an entire
class of weapons. But a classified review of the nuclear posture of the
United States for the next decade, leaked a year ago (WN
15 Mar 02),
"confirms that a modern production facility will be required for large-scale
replacement of existing plutonium components [as part of the Stockpile
Stewardship Program], and any production of new designs" (WN
23 May 03). Clearly, the US is edging closer and closer to the production
of a new nuclear weapon (WN 23 May 03).
2. IRAQ'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: U.N. NUCLEAR EXPERTS STILL RESTRICTED.
An Associated Press Story today reports that the U.S. has
tried to keep the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) out of postwar
Iraq. A team of only seven U.N. experts will be allowed to assess damage
to Iraq's largest nuclear facility by looters. But the Pentagon stressed that the IAEA visit would be a one-time event to enforce the Nonproliferation Treaty, and not a weapons inspection that might set a precedent for future U.N. searches for weapons of mass destructions. Pentagon officials told the Associated Press that the team would be accompanied at all times by American troops and weapons experts. In his address to the nation on Oct. 7, 2002, President Bush explained the need for America to take military action in Iraq: "Some believe we can address this danger by simply resuming the old approach of inspections and diplomatic and economic pressure. Yet this is precisely what the world has tried to do since 1991." Now
it is the United States that is restricting U.N. access in Iraq.
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: LIMITED TESTING OFFSETS IMMATURE TECHNOLOGY.
A GAO report released Wednesday warns that the decision
to deploy a missile defense system in 2004 invites failure. The General
Accounting Office is the investigative arm of Congress, which is controlled
by the Republicans. I knew my friend Puff Panegyric at the Missile Defense
Agency would want to know. "You've been misled by the liberal press again,"
Puff sighed. "At the Agency, we're darn proud of what the GAO had to say.
It's testing that invites failure. Why would we want to test a technology
before it matures?" He had me there. "But the GAO also faulted MDA for
not budgeting for long-term costs," I weakly responded. "That's not
criticism," Puff snorted, "the Pentagon always low-balls cost estimates.
It's made us the most powerful nation in the world."