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April, 2003

Bush Administration Wants Lower Nuclear Threshold
Deep Penetrators and Baby Nukes
By Jim Scanlon

With thousands of fission and fusion bombs of all sizes left over from the Cold War, one would have thought there were enough doomsday weapons on hand for the US military, but not so!

The president's 2004 budget contains a request for the repeal of a 1993 law that prohibits the development of weapons with an explosive yield of less than 5 kilotons. This, in addition to a Defense Department request to develop a "Deep Penetrator" bomb with a yield of 100 kilotons to, ostensibly destroy buried nuclear production laboratories.

One kilo ton = 1,000 tons of the chemical explosive TNT and the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was estimated as having the explosive yield of 20 kilotons.

The 1993 law was passed by Congress to prohibit "Baby Nukes" of less than 5 kilotons which might lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons.

"Deep Penetrator" bombs also known as "Bunker Busters" would penetrate deeply into the earth before exploding causing underground caves, excavations and bunkers to collapse. North Korea reportedly has a hidden uranium enrichment facility and three nuclear production facilities in excavations under mountains.

A policy review ordered by President Bush in 2002 said that the Deep Penetrator was "...vital to defending the US against emerging threats posed by terrorist groups."

Representative Ellen Taucher, a California Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said, in criticizing the repeal of the law, " I don't see how we look at all the nuclear wannabes in the face ..."

 

 

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