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the brave new nuclear world
the congress is moving ahead toward approval for research and development of a new breed of smaller tactical weapons designed to, among other things, bust imagined weapons of mass destruction in underground bunkers. from a report on the bbc website, my emphasis,
The House Armed Services Committee is voting the money as part of the $400bn defence authorisation bill which will be reported out on Tuesday.
The move would overturn a ten-year ban on such developments, and still has to be approved by the full House and Senate.
Democrats warned that it would make harder to contain the spread of nuclear weapons.

"This is a major shift of policy," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.
"It makes a mockery of our argument around the world that other countries - India, Pakistan - should not test and North Korea and Iran should not obtain (nuclear weapons)."

Under the Bush administration, the US has signed a strategic arms-control deal with Russia, but it has abrogated the anti-missile defence treaty and has expressed doubts about the comprehensive test ban treaty.

why is this such a bad idea? with north korea already rattling the nuclear sabre and both india and pakistan ready with their own posse of nuclear weapons the horrors of the cold war era become so much more plausible in current times. imagine an attack akin to the one carried out on the indian parliament in december 2001 could easily escalate into a war between the two nuclear nations in the indian sub-continent. i'm certain only the most extreme of thinkers on both sides would favor a war, for unlike the times when america has gone to war in the last decade, the opponents are more evenly matched in this potential conflict. america has consistently refused remain true to its obligations and international agreements, from the kyoto protocol to its refusal to ratify the international criminal court.

from the sf gate, a may 11 article, says this,
Proposals in President Bush's 2004 budget would refurbish virtually every facet of the nuclear weapons complex, ranging from the nuclear test site in Nevada to the Savannah River plant in South Carolina.

There are approximately 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world, more than 95 percent of them in the United States and Russia.

Kenneth Bergeron, a former nuclear scientist at the Sandia National Laboratory, warned in a recent book, "Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power," that the decision to develop tritium at the Watts Bar reactor blurs the line between commercial and military reactors, something the United States has insisted other countries should not do.

there is already enough existing nuclear power to pretty much destroy the earth, by lowering the bar and initiating the development of smaller weapons the united states is refusing to let nuclear war be the uniquely horrifying memory of the past century. smaller, low yield nuclear weapons make nuclear attacks much more likely, by, if not removing, then at least lowering the psychological and ethical barrier to their use. with the rumsfeld doctrine of pre-emptive strikes being an official part of this administration's way of dealing with threats to america, both real and conjured, i'm starting to fear the coming years. if bush wins the next presidential election i'll be living with a very uneasy feeling, that of impending doom.

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