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Link to Defense Science and Technology Plans Documents
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 9, 2001
CONTACT: Andrew Lichterman or Jackie Cabasso (510) 839-5877
U.S. PLANS FOR NEW, WAR-FIGHTING USES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS REVEALED
Documents Obtained under Freedom of Information Act Show National Ignition Facility to Host "laser/fireball" Tunnel Tests
OAKLAND, CA -- Department of Defense (DOD) plans obtained by the Western States Legal Foundation through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the U.S. is conducting research to make nuclear weapons more useable against a variety of targets. This work is continuing despite U.S. claims in international treaty fora that it is de-emphasizing its nuclear arsenal.
According to the DOD's "Defense Science and Technology and Strategy and Plans," dated February 2000, the U.S. is actively pursuing research to make low-yield nuclear weapons effective against underground targets. A stated goal for 2001 is to "Demonstrate the effectiveness of nuclear weapons capabilities in defeating deep structures using precise, low-yield attacks by HE [High Explosives] simulation."
The documents were made public by the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), an Oakland-based public interest group critical of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. WSLF Program Director Andrew Lichterman explained: "These plans make clear that the U.S. 'Stockpile Stewardship' program, portrayed to the public as designed solely to preserve the existing stockpile, is part of a continuing effort to expand the role of nuclear weapons in warfare."
One project DOD plans is to "conduct laser/fireball test in National Ignition Facility (NIF) to improve understanding in-tunnel airblast." The NIF is also slated to be used for "nuclear effects x-ray testing." Now under construction at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the NIF has been criticized for its multi-billion dollar price tag and questionable scientific merit.
Lichterman concluded: "The opportunity to escape the constant threat of nuclear destruction which arrived with the end of the Cold War is slipping away. The U.S. is preparing to continue the nuclear arms race into the 21st century. It's time for a real national debate on these issues before it is too late."
The U.S. committed itself to "a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons will ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination," earlier this year at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. That commitment was reaffirmed in a November 20, 2000 United Nations General Assembly vote.
Citations and additional details from DOD's "Defense Science and Technology Strategy and Plans" are available from Western States Legal Foundation on request.
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