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New generation Nukes US is working on?



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Shades of Dr. Strangelove!
Will We Learn to Love the B61-11?

Greg Mello
Sunday, June 1 1997; Page C01 The Washington Post
http://www.lasg.org/papers/melloWashPostOpEd.html

The Cold War is over and the U.S. government says it is no longer in the
business of building new nuclear weapons. So why is it deploying a versatile
new kind of nuclear bomb intended to penetrate the earth and destroy
underground facilities?
This spring, the United States began fielding the first new nuclear
capability added to the U.S. arsenal since 1989 -- a slim, 12-foot-long
weapon known as the B61 "mod-11" gravity bomb. It was developed and deployed
without public or congressional debate, and in contradiction to official
assurances that no new nuclear weapons were being developed in the United
States. The government contends the B61-11 is merely a "modification" to the
B61-7 gravity bomb. And yet, these modifications provide a substantial new
military capability. This is significant for three reasons:
>From a military standpoint, the B61-11 is uniquely able to destroy
underground targets, and it can be set to do so with a small nuclear yield.
With such an underground blast, much of the resulting fallout might be
relatively localized. For these reasons, there are those who might be
tempted to rationalize using the bomb. Even before it was fully developed,
it was used to threaten Libya over its construction of an alleged
underground chemical weapons factory.
>From a diplomatic standpoint, this new weapon violates the spirit of the
delicately forged international ban on nuclear testing. And it further
undermines the long-standing U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament embodied
in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
>From a development and production standpoint, the B61-11 may be the first
such new capability, but it will not be the last. It opens the way for other
new weapons now under development in the Department of Energy's massive
"stockpile stewardship and management program." Current funding for this
program exceeds the average spent by DOE during the Cold War. Last month,
nuclear pioneer Hans Bethe, joined by Frank von Hippel of Princeton and
others, warned that some of this research could lead to entire new classes
of weapons and should be stopped.
But the B61-11 is a reality now, and raises fundamental questions about the
sincerity of the U.S. commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(CTBT), signed by President Clinton last September and due to be considered
for final ratification by the Senate this fall.
While producing the B61-11 apparently did not involve modifications to the
"physics package" -- the nuclear explosive itself -- there is no question
that the bomb provides a new nuclear capability. Although the treaty is
silent on the question of new weapons, U.S. negotiators have explicitly said
it is intended to prohibit such development


http://www.lasg.org/papers/melloWashPostOpEd.html


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