Reading Room

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer -- ANA (239) 395-6773
Jay Coghlan -- NWNM (505) 989-7342
Marylia Kelley -- TVC (925) 443-7148

for immediate release, Thursday, April 3, 2003

Secret Pentagon Documents Call For "Usable" Nuclear Weapons

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability Seeks Release of Declassified Versions of New "Military Requirement" for Nuclear Bunker Buster and"Implementation Plan" for Nuclear Posture Review

The Pentagon will soon complete two secret documents that will spur development of a nuclear "bunker buster," according to senior Bush Administration officials who recently met with leaders of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA).

Dr. Dale Klein, Executive Director of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Council, a joint panel of top Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) leaders, told an ANA delegation that the Pentagon is working up a "new military requirement" for a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), to be issued in "one month or months."

A separate report, delivered by DOD to Congress late last month, cleared the way for the release of $15 million in dedicated funding for RNEP research and development but fell short of containing a full military requirement for RNEP.

In addition, Dr. Klein told ANA representatives that an "Implementation Plan" for the Administration's controversial Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was nearly finished. That statement was confirmed to ANA by high-ranking staff at DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration. The NPR expands potential nuclear targets from two countries to seven, including Iraq and North Korea, and prioritizes the destruction of "hardened, deeply buried targets" by nuclear bunker busters.

Both documents are expected to be labeled "secret," but ANA is already working with Members of Congress to seek declassified versions.

"Taxpayers have a right to know that the Pentagon is quietly pursuing a brave new world of more 'usable' nuclear bombs and warheads at the same time it forcibly instructs other nations to abstain from developing weapons of mass destruction," explained Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico (NWNM), a group that monitors DOE weapons laboratories.

"These plans send a dangerous, contradictory message to the world about the military value of nuclear weapons," added Marylia Kelley, who lives across the street from DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and has directed Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (TVC) for two decades. "They must be viewed in the context of implementing the policy shift to 'pre-emptive' strikes made public in leaked reports about the Bush Administration's nuclear posture. The result could further destabilize an already volatile world."

Coghlan, Kelley and more than five dozen other activists from communities near nuclear weapons sites around the U.S. spent three days in Washington last month meeting with Congressional and Administration officials as part of ANA's fifteenth annual "DC Days." In addition to the RNEP military requirement and the NPR Implementation Plan, ANA also learned from senior Congressional staff that the Pentagon has drafted legislation to overturn the nation's current prohibition against the research and development of "mininukes."

An ANA briefing kit on current nuclear weapons issues is available on request.

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