It is not often that we are able to report a victory in the effort to chart a new course for US nuclear policy, but we can do so today. Since the Bush administration began pursuing research on new and more usable nuclear weapons, we have said that this sends the wrong message to the world and violates US obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The administration has been pursuing new “bunker buster” nuclear weapons and “mini-nukes,” also referred to as low yield nuclear weapons. It turns out that Congress agrees with those of us who oppose new nuclear weapons. In a bipartisan show of support, Congress denied funding for nuclear bunker busters and advanced concepts research on new nuclear weapons designs that could have included low yield nuclear weapons.
Congress passed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill on November 20, 2004 with no funding for new nuclear weapons. In this Bill, Congress also slashed the administration’s request for funds for a new facility to build plutonium pits for new nuclear weapons from $29.8 million to $7 million. This represents a major defeat for the Bush administration and its efforts to pursue new and more usable nuclear weapons.
Chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio) of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee played a major role in removing funding for the administration’s pursuit of new nuclear weapons. Strong support in the Senate came from Senator Dianne Feinstein.
This year, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation launched its Turn the Tide Campaign to chart a new course for US nuclear policy. The Campaign Statement begins: “The US government has the paramount responsibility to assure a more secure and far safer environment for its citizens. In continuing its long tradition of demonstrating world leadership, the US government can protect Americans and their families, as well as people throughout the world, by significantly reducing and eliminating the threats posed by nuclear weapons.”
Stopping all efforts to create dangerous new nuclear weapons and delivery systems is the first policy that the Turn the Tide Campaign calls for the President and all members of Congress to immediately implement. The Congressional action on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill is an important step toward achieving this end.
The Turn the Tide Campaign Statement contains 13 points, including securing fissile materials around the world and canceling plans to build new nuclear weapons production plants. For a copy of the full Campaign Statement and information on becoming involved in the Turn the Tide Campaign, visit the Action Page at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s web site.
David Krieger is the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org).