New nuke studies are in the works
The bill included $6 million for "mini-nukes" under 5 kilotons (a 13-kiloton bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II) and $7.5 million for "bunker busters," designed to destroy underground targets.
Congress also committed $25 million to reducing "test readiness" time for nuclear weapons-testing at the Nevada Test Site. The site has been quiet since 1992, when the United States tested the last of more than 900 nuclear bombs. Since then, scientists have used computer modeling to make sure the nation’s nuclear stockpile is "safe and secure," says Darwin Morgan, spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration in Las Vegas.
The agency has kept the Nevada Test Site ready, so bombs could be tested within two to three years if the need arose. Now, under the new law, the site must be ready to roll in less than two years.
While Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, R, is against the federal government’s plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, he’s not likely to oppose nuclear testing. "Historically, the state has been pretty passive about weapons testing," says Bob Loux, executive director of the state’s Agency for Nuclear Projects. "Now, we have a Republican governor who defers to the president on national security issues."