BETTER the devil they know, it seems. The US House of Representatives last week voted to deny any further funding for a programme to design the next-generation nuclear warhead. Money will instead go towards "sustaining and modernising" the nation's existing stockpile of more than 4000 warheads.
The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) had argued that the Reliable Replacement Warhead was needed because it would be safer to stockpile and harder for terrorists to acquire and use. Electronic security features would render it useless in the wrong hands, and it would feature a new breed of explosives for triggering fission, making accidental detonation less of a risk. It would also need less fissile material, making it safer to stockpile. "Today's nuclear weapons were not designed with security and longevity as the top priorities," the NNSA said.
"Today's weapons were not designed with security and longevity as the top priorities"
Nevertheless, when the House Armed Services Committee revealed its 2009 Defense Authorization Bill on 15 May, it did not include the $33 million the NNSA had requested for next year.
Last week, there seemed a chance that this decision would be reversed after Republican Steve Pearce proposed an amendment to include the funding. However, on 23 May, 44 Republicans crossed the floor to vote against the programme with the Democrats, defeating the amendment by 271 votes to 145. The issue now moves to the Senate, which may yet grant the funding.
33 million? That's all? There's more pork than that in the congressional lunch menu. There's something not right about this, but I can't put my finger on it. Why would the hawks cross the line and act like doves?
Saw this story this morning. Maybe this has something to do with it?
The MSNBC link is gone now I could not find the story in the Post archives.
From what I read in the 2010 NPR, the "smart people" might have a slight desire to consider possibly looking into maybe thinking about the RRW again......or maybe not.
With regard to the news story, a couple years ago somebody did leak a colored drawing of what the RRW design was supposed to resemble- similar in spirit to the "design info" crayon drawing of the (W-78?) MIRV in the Cox Report and USA Today. I only saw it once on the web as a thumbnail, and could not find it again.
In addition to "anti-tamper" features, RRW was to utilize insensitive high explosives (IHE) and supposed to be "reliable" without actual testing.
I am torn on the matter- on one hand, it would be nice to stock a "reliable deterrent" with a design spec less than 25 years old, but on the other hand, lately everything we yanks touch ends up in the crapper.....maybe "just one" little tiny test? Just one?
I think the US needs to agressively develop the RRW as long as we can be guaranteed that it will be as safe, reliable, cost effective, and efficient as possible, so the end result will be that we will NEVER have to use them!
Relying on old technology as a deterrent is stupid- plain and simple.
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