Friday, 15 May 98 Washington, DC
1. CTBT: HAS INDIA DESTROYED ANY HOPE FOR TREATY RATIFICATION?
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Foreign Relations Chair
Jesse Helms say they will block action on the test ban treaty. If
it came to vote, it would fail anyway. It was not the tests that
doomed the treaty -- it could be argued that India's action only
demonstrated the urgent need for an agreement -- rather it was
the failure of American intelligence to pick up any hint that the
tests were imminent. When it was revealed that only one of the
claimed five tests had been detected by the seismic network, the
opponents of CTBT were quick to cite the failure as proof that a
test ban is not verifiable. Weapons experts contacted by WN were
not so sure; as one of them commented, "Something ain't right."
It may not have been the seismic monitoring that failed but the
tests themselves. Everyone agrees that the testing procedure was
unusual. If the undetected tests were not actual duds, they may
have only been sub-critical tests of weapons components or even
shams meant to exaggerate India's nuclear capability. Although
the tests may have diverted the Indian public from their economic
woes for the time being, those woes now seem destined to grow.
2. STAR WARS II: NUCLEAR TESTS FAIL TO MOVE MISSILE-DEFENSE BILL.
A move to cut off debate on a Senate bill that calls for early
deployment failed by one vote to get the 60 votes needed under
Senate rules. Proponents of a national missile defense argued
that the Indian tests prove that the threat of a missile attack
is uncertain at best. That might have been a stronger argument if
the prospects for a working missile defense had been a little
less uncertain -- the costly ($3.2B so far) Theater High-Altitude
Area Defense program just suffered its fifth consecutive failure.
3. ARGONNE: LABORATORY DIRECTOR RESIGNS AFTER TWO-YEAR STINT.
Dean Eastman, citing a desire to get back to research, will
assume a tenured faculty position at the University of Chicago.
Eastman spent 33 years at IBM before joining Argonne. There has
been no announcement of the procedure for naming his replacement.
4. SOCIAL POLICY: INVESTMENT IN SCIENCE LINKED TO WELFARE REFORM.
A Wednesday Op-Ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by physicist
Allen Goldman pointed out that S.1305, the bipartisan research
doubling bill, should appeal to both Minnesota senators -- even
though they occupy ideological poles. Research creates the jobs
that make welfare reform possible. He urged them both to sign on.
5. PODKLETNOV GRAVITY SHIELD: NASA GOES TO THE SOURCE FOR HELP.
According to a story in the Columbus Dispatch, NASA brought the
Russian scientist to the US last week to help them figure out why
NASA scientists can't seem to make the gravity shield work
(WN 15 Aug 97).
Podkletnov, who withdrew his paper, says it works for
him -- but he's not sure why. He should be a big help.