Are we finally entering a post-nuclear age? Apparently not:
The Bush administration is expected to announce next week a major step forward in the building of the country?s first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades. It will propose combining elements of competing designs from two weapons laboratories in an approach that some experts argue is untested and risky.
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The new weapon would not add to but replace the nation?s existing arsenal of aging warheads, with a new generation meant to be sturdier, more reliable, safer from accidental detonation and more secure from theft by terrorists.
The announcement, to be made by the interagency Nuclear Weapons Council, avoids making a choice between the two designs for a new weapon, called the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which at first would be mounted on submarine-launched missiles.
The effort, if approved by President Bush and financed by Congress, would require a huge refurbishment of the nation?s complex for nuclear design and manufacturing, with the overall bill estimated at more than $100 billion.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I was in ROTC in college, my entire post-grad professional career has been funded by DoD research, and I most definitely would consider myself a technologist. But I just don’t see the need, or wisdom, in spending north of $100 billion on an untestable weapons system when we have perfectly serviceable comparable systems in place (which, BTW, we have committed to disarming). Not to mention the fact that everyone to the left of General Jack D. Ripper should hope nukes are never used in anger again.
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