Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nuke Enthusiasts Fight New Start Treaty

The newspapers this morning are filled with reports and discussions of matters relating to the New Start Treaty:

The New York Times is running a William J Broad story about the Treaty, and its relation to controversy over upgrading of the US nuclear deterrent, with corresponding costly nuke building programs at the DOE/NNSA's nuke labs, especially LANL and ORNL, but also the Kansas City Plant. In order to entice a few Republican Treaty ratification votes, Pres. Obama is offering more money for nuke program upgrades, but the Republican point man on this issue, Sen. Jon Kyl, still says no.

The NYT runs a Maureen Dowd spoof of Pres. Obama's New Start Treaty political problems.

The NYT also runs a story about Sig Hecker's trip to N Korea, and his "discovery" there of a new facility for uranium enrichment.

The Los Angeles Times contains a more comprehensive story about Hecker's trip to N Korea, pointing out that he traveled with Jack Pritchard, a former US ambassador to S Korea, and a current publicist for S Korean interests. According to the LAT, both Hecker and Pritchard will shortly give a talk about their trip to the Korean Economic Institute, Pritchard's organization. They had both also just finished briefing the Institute for Science and International Security, a group focused on world-wide nuclear proliferation matters.

Hecker, a past director of LANL and a strong proponent of continuing the American nuclear weapons program, was a signatory to a May 2010 letter by 10 former nuke lab directors criticizing the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. The former directors asserted that the NPR restricts the creative freedom of scientists and engineers who work at the nuke labs, thus denying the nation the full benefit of its nuclear weapons designers' expertise, and placing the nation at unnecessary risk of a possible future nuclear attack.

One wonders about the timing of the release of information about Hecker's latest visit to N Korea, and the effect that this information might have on the New Start Treaty ratification process.

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