Saturday, March 03, 2007

Building a Better Bomb
Yes, what we need right now are better nuclear warheads. Note in this article that one technical design was likely chosen over another to avoid underground testing, which would rightfully garner much attention:
The Bush administration announced yesterday the winner of a competition to design the nation’s first new nuclear weapon in nearly two decades and immediately set out to reassure Russia and China that the weapon, if built, would pose no new threat to either nation.

If President Bush decides to authorize production and Congress agrees, the research could lead to a long, expensive process to replace all American nuclear warheads in the next few decades with new designs.

The first to be replaced with the new Reliable Replacement Weapon would be the W-76, a warhead for missiles deployed on submarines.

Officials said the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California would design the replacement warhead based on previously tested components, allowing the administration to argue that no new underground tests would be necessary before deploying the new weapon.

Yeah, I'm sure China and Russia will buy this and sit quietly while we upgrade:
The goal is to replace the arsenal of aging warheads with a generation meant to be sturdier, more reliable, safer from accidental detonation and more secure from theft.

The replacements will have the same explosive yields and other military characteristics of the current weapons, officials said, a point that senior administration officials have made to Russia in arguing that the new weapons do not represent an expansion of the American arsenal.

At least someone in congress is speaking against this (I'll be calling my reps):
“What worries me,” Mrs. Feinstein said, “is that the minute you begin to put more sophisticated warheads on the existing fleet, you are essentially creating a new nuclear weapon. And it’s just a matter of time before other nations do the same thing.”
Mrs. Feinstein cited a report in December saying plutonium pits have a lifespan of at least 85 years, leading critics to question whether the new weapons are necessary.

We can spend money on upgrading nuclear warheads, potentially setting off a new arms race, but we can't get our act together on healthcare, education, and civil rights? That's buckets worth of message!