LOS ALAMOS, NM --
"Despite pledges to the contrary, a wide variety of new nuclear weapons
are under development in the United States," says defense analyst William
Arkin in an article published today in the Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists. The article reveals new details about nuclear
weapons design activities underway at the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos
and Sandia National Laboratories under the guise of "Stockpile Stewardship,"
along with new Department of Defense (DoD) programs geared toward advanced
delivery systems. According to Arkin, "Forget the notion that
stewardship is about protecting a force adequate for deterrence in a
post-Cold War world. Unreformed nuclear war planning -- calling
for many new nuclear weapons -- continues in secret..."
Arkin's article includes information previously released by the above
public interest groups, as well as information obtained in the course
of a massive lawsuit that has pitted 39 citizens' organizations -- represented
by the Natural Resources Defense Council -- against the Department of
Energy (DOE) and its "Stockpile Stewardship" program.
Arkin warns that these large, unregulated DOE and DoD programs, which
proceed despite numerous U.S. assurances to the contrary, undermine
U.S. credibility in attempting to rein in nuclear proliferation around
New nuclear weapons projects include:
• a replacement for current Trident submarine-launched warheads, the
Trident missile itself, plus development of a new submarine;
• an upgrade to MX warheads and strategic bombs;
• nuclear glide bombs to make up for B-2 stealth inadequacies;
• an earth-penetrating bomb capable of ultra-low yields (recently deployed);
• a high-powered radio-frequency warhead to be used to take out a nation's
electronic systems -- a "black budget" program; and
• a nuclear warhead for theater defense missiles, designed to intercept
and incinerate biological and chemical warheads.
The new warhead and bomb programs are proceeding despite the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the stated purpose of which is to stop such
developments. Until recently, many arms control groups close to
the Clinton Administration did not believe that U.S. labs would or even could design and certify new weapons without nuclear testing.
It is now clear that these hopes were naive. As Arkin concludes: "Bill Clinton says that `advanced new types of nuclear weapons' are
not being developed. He may want to check that out."
The nuke lab programs are being funded by a dramatic expansion in annual
U.S. weapons budgets, which, after their initial post-Cold War decline,
are now expected to rise by 33% in current dollars over the FY 1995-FY
1999 period. The program is currently projected to cost $60 billion
over a 13-year period, including some $19 billion in new construction
and equipment acquisitions.
The Los Alamos Study Group, Tri-Valley CAREs and Western States Legal
Foundation have been in the forefront of efforts to expose new nuclear
weapons research and development activities at the Livermore, Los Alamos
and Sandia National Labs. Copies of the Bulletin article and
background information are available upon request.