The 108th Congress
- Put a halt to Bush Administration plans for the Robust
Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP)
The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) would be designed to
destroy hardened and deeply buried targets such as bunkers
containing chemical and biological weapons.
Because of its lower yield and earth penetrating capability,
the RNEP is considered to be a more "usable" nuclear
weapon than large yield, "strategic" nuclear weapons.
However, reports by scientists indicate that the RNEP is far from
being a "clean" weapon. If detonated in an urban
setting, 10,000 to 50,000 people would receive a fatal dose of
radiation within the first 24 hours. This does not take into
account injuries from the extreme pressures of the blast or the
heat of the explosion. Nor does the casualty estimate consider the
consequences of fires and the collapse of buildings from the
seismic shock that the explosion would produce. http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001/v54n1/weapons.htm
Development of this new nuclear warhead may require the
resumption of U.S. nuclear weapons testing, ending the
international moratorium which the U.S. has been observing for ten
The development of a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator would have
disastrous consequences for the international arms control regime.
A nuclear weapon designed for battlefield use would increase the
perception that nuclear weapons were as usable as any other part
of the U.S. conventional weapons arsenal and that the U.S. was
preparing to use them. If the U.S. proceeds with these weapons,
other nations with far less conventional weapons capability will
seek to deter a U.S. attack by developing their own weapons of
mass destruction, most likely chemical or biological weapons.
Finally, proceeding with the production of the RNEP would
significantly undermine the global non-proliferation regime
because the obvious targets for these weapons are non-nuclear
weapon states. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
prohibits the use of nuclear weapons against such states. The U.S.
and other nuclear weapon states pledged in 1995, not to use
nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states (with certain
exceptions), as an inducement for those non-nuclear weapon states
to agree to extend, indefinitely, the NPT. Therefore, the
development or testing of these weapons would be a de facto
repudiation of these assurances.
and Weapons of Mass Destruction Cato
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