New Nukes

The Bush administration need not go all the way to Iraq for
those weapons of mass destruction. On the docket for the Energy
Department is a brand new $4 billion Modern Pit Facility (MPF) for
producing plutonium cores (pits). This is not merely a
fantastically hypocritical statement regarding our own
militaristic, and moralistic, efforts to halt bomb programs in
North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan. It is also a flagrant
violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Or, to take it
one step further, as Arundhati Roy notes in a recent issue of Z
, ‘Nuclear bombs, whether they’re used or not, violate
everything that is humane. They alter the meaning of life itself.
Why do we tolerate them?’

The new MPF would be able to pump out 250-900 pits per
. Though there is no clear indication as to why this
country needs more bombs, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s
argues that the facility would force ‘would-be peer competitors’ to
realize ‘the futility of trying to sprint toward parity with us.’
(As if the 15,000 pits currently sitting in warehouses are not a
sufficient deterrent.)

So, why is this facility important to build? As Christopher
Paine reports in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, it’s
all about the pork — ‘and some members of Congress believe that
filling the federal pork barrel with plutonium is just another way
to bring home the bacon.’ Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC) brags,
‘Nobody — I mean nobody in the world — does plutonium better.’ He
wants the facility to be built in his district’s Savannah River
nuclear complex. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) sees things differently.
He wants the MPF to be conveniently located right next to the
nation’s only licensed transuranic waste dump — which just happens
to be in his home state — so that bomb-builders can open the back
door and toss out the trash. Regardless of congressional infighting
— squabbling like pigs at the trough — it is, in the end,
taxpayers who will foot the bill for thousands of shiny new weapons
of mass destruction.
Joel Stonington

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Really is the Pits

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